Logging: Natural Resource Industry Risks

MEMIC data analysis indicates the following are areas of concern in logging, agriculture and other businesses that deal with natural resources. The following is a list of problems with recommended solutions that — if put into practice — can help make your business safer.

1. Material Handling

Natural resource industries often require workers to move heavy objects or repeat a series of motions. Either of these scenarios can contribute to a workplace injury.

A few simple steps can lower the risk of these injuries.

  • Use and maintain lift-aid equipment such as hand carts, dollies, and fork lifts rather than lifting and moving materials by hand.
  • When materials must be moved by hand, use appropriate body positioning. Avoid lifting from the floor level. Avoid extended reaching away from the body or overhead when moving materials.
  • Determine an objects weight and ask for help when lifting heavy or bulky objects.

2. Lack of Effective Supervision
Well-trained supervisors will manage well-planned jobs and will ultimately produce safe and productive job sites. Research shows that many supervisors are promoted into a supervisory position because of their technical ability or productivity. This does not mean that he or she is ready for the human relations challenges of leading people to work safely and productively.

  • Supervisor Training. Train your supervisors in human relations skills, behavior-based management and their responsibility toward safe production. Job descriptions should identity: skills necessary, training required and benchmarks for safety accountability. MEMIC can help through our supervisory management training programs.

3. Medical Management Program
If an employee is injured, managing that injury and returning the employee to work as soon as possible can help save money and retain valuable employees.

  • Develop a medical management program which identifies a specific medical facility or doctor that will work with the employer to return employees to work or to an alternate duty as soon as they are able. The longer an employee is out of work, the more it costs the employer.

4. Avoiding Slips, Trips and Falls
Of the injuries that occur in natural resource industries, slips, trips or falls are the most frequent. Here are some simple ways to prevent these injuries:

  • Keep floors and work areas clear of debris, electrical cords, tools and other extraneous equipment. Make sure floors are not slippery.
  • Remove ice and snow as often as practical and use sand and/or salt on slippery walking surfaces.
  • Insure that access to equipment or elevated work surfaces includes steps and handholds that are constructed of slip-resistant material and allow for three points of contact.
  • Footwear selection must insure soles are appropriate for the most common surface walked on.
  • Fall protection is critical. An enforceable fall protection policy should be in place. Anyone who is in a position to fall four feet or more should always use fall protection equipment.

5. Manage Work Zones
Many job tasks require employees to work in work zones with other employees or in the work zones of heavy equipment or machines. The best practice is to have one person (or one person in a machine) in one work zone, performing one task. If this “Separation-of-Operation” cannot be maintained, a few steps must be taken to ensure that the activities of one employee don’t create a hazard for another employee:

  • Any employee in any active work zone must be essential to the operation.
  • For work zones with equipment, machine operators must remain in protective cabs.
  • If employees are required on the ground near machines, they must remain in areas visible to equipment operators, wear high visibility clothing and maintain communication with the machine operators. A company policy should direct activities in this most hazardous work zone.