The Logging Safety Quandary Revisited: How You Can Help


FRA’s June 9, 2022 Woods to Mill installment, The Logging Safety Quandary: Why the Number 22.8 Matters, shared recent alarming trends in logging safety fatality data and described FRA’s collaboration with the North Carolina Agromedicine Institute on identifying potential solutions for improving logging safety industry-wide. One of the initial findings from our joint 2022 survey conducted with state Logger Training and Education (LTE) coordinators revealed a lack of on-site training opportunities during the COVID-19 pandemic. We believe a logical next step is to take a deeper dive into the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the logging sector to determine if the pandemic-related lack of on-site training opportunities correlates to recent spikes in fatality data for the logging profession nationwide.

I am pleased to announce the Central Appalachian Regional Education & Research Center (CARERC), a CDC/NIOSH-funded training program led by the University of Kentucky and Eastern Kentucky University, has awarded funding to the NC Agromedicine Institute to examine the impacts of COVID-19 on the logging sector. The goal of this project is to learn how COVID-19 contributed to the increased rate of logging fatalities. This intent will be achieved through the following specific aims:

  1. Further examine the effect of COVID-19 on state-level logger safety training.
  2. Investigate the impact of COVID-19 on hiring, training, and day-to-day operations at the logger employer level.
  3. Compare logging fatality and training data to findings from interviews and surveys.

The Forest Resources Association (FRA) is committed to supporting a well-functioning and efficient forest products supply chain. A healthy and safe logging sector is a critical component of the entire wood supply system and serves as the vital linkage between the woods and the consuming mills. The North Carolina Agromedicine Institute “is a partnership among East Carolina, NC State, and NC Agricultural & Technical State Universities. Its mission is to promote the health and safety of farmers, fishermen, foresters, their workers, and their families through research, prevention/intervention, and education/outreach. The Institute is a non-regulatory agency and is internationally recognized for its ability to work in a neutral, protected space with stakeholders from all agricultural sectors.” We are confident they are an ideal partner to assist FRA with our efforts to advance logging safety by ensuring LTE coordinators have the needed resources to deliver a quality and effective safety training program. 

So how can you help? Please consider assisting the NC Agromedicine Institute by identifying potential survey participants within the logging community and encouraging them to complete the online survey. Participation is needed from logging contractors that operated during the calendar year 2020. FRA will work with our state association partners to distribute the survey to logging professionals. Still, we welcome your assistance in ensuring that we get quality responses from across the country to better understand the impacts of COVID-19 on the day-to-day operations in the logging sector. The QR code for the survey is below. Please share with the logging community within your professional network. And hard copies of the survey are available upon request.

On a side note – Dr. Robin Tutor Marcom, the Institute’s Director, recently presented at FRA’s Southeastern Region 2023 Spring Meeting in Beaufort, NC, on March 23. Her presentation, titled “Logging Safety Project Update,” provided a snapshot of past work the Institute has undertaken to improve logging safety and a glimpse of planned efforts to continue to make positive strides to improve overall industrial safety. One of Robin’s specific areas of expertise is the impact of stress on safety performance in the agricultural sector. There are numerous root causes of stress, and it can manifest in many forms (physical, emotional, psychological, financial, etc.). But the impacts and results of excessive stress and improper stress management can be equally catastrophic. Robin’s son, Kevin, is employed by a well-known and respected logging company in North Carolina. So, it’s safe to say the logging profession is near and dear to her heart.

Robin and I frequently meet in our hometown for coffee and a logging safety brainstorming session. We have discussed several ideas to address compounded stress in the logging profession. She already has a solid foundation to serve as a starting point, but your comments and feedback are always welcome. Stay tuned for more details on the logging safety topic, keep sending us your ideas and comments, and please share the survey QR code with your logging sector stakeholders!