Safety is A Core Value of the Forest Products Industry

illustration of logging worker making signal to logging equipment operator

Safety is a core value of the forest products industry. Whether it’s workers in the mill, truck drivers hauling fiber, or loggers harvesting trees, we should make every effort to ensure that work environments are safe and that good, safety first, decisions are being made by owners and employees. Safety awareness does not stop, repetition is good, and we must work towards continuous improvement every day, every month, every year.

When the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries released its findings for 2018, there were 5,250 fatal work injuries recorded in the United States. This is a two percent increase from the 5,147 in 2017. In addition, the report noted in “2018, logging workers, fishers and related fishing workers, aircraft pilots and flight engineers, and roofers all had fatality rates more than 10 times the all-worker rate of 3.5 fatalities per 100,000 FTE workers.”

The ranking of occupations, based on the number of fatal accidents in 2018 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers, has the logging occupation listed as the most dangerous job in America for 2018. This critical sector in the forest products industry edged up from being second last year, and it is not new to this top placement on the fatal occupational injury ranking.

Logging has long been known to be a dangerous job. However, this high ranking does not tell the full story in today’s operations. Logging looks very different from decades ago with the continuous advancement in mechanized equipment. Safety has been at the forefront of these operational improvements, and most of the logging jobs today are much safer and at a lower risk for injury than the recent past. There are locations and terrains, or high-value trees where mechanized equipment cannot be used that require chainsaws fell timber, and I want to commend the professionals that practice safety first.

FRA provides a variety of information that can be used to improve safety awareness and help show continuous improvement throughout the entire wood supply chain. We want to continually share information with our members about how FRA is advancing the message of safety through our communications, technical releases and partnering with organizations to raise safety awareness in our industry. Below is a list of material available on FRA’s website as well as a link to the National Timber Harvesting and Transportation Safety Foundation website:

One work fatality is too many. The people of the wood supply chain are what make this industry. Together we need to continue to make every effort to keep safety as a core value and not just a priority, in good times and bad. Priorities change. Values are embedded in our culture. As an industry, we have shown great progress and will continue to make continuous improvement in the safety arena. When it comes to safety, repetition is good.