Forest Products Industry Safety Best Practices

Forest Products Industry Safety Best Practices

A key focus of FRA as defined by our Mission statement is to communicate relevant and timely information promoting safety to our members. We are all seeing the important and crucial role that safety has during the current COVID-19 crisis that has disrupted both the forest products industry and the world at large.

Back in March of 2021, FRA reached out to FRA members and industry partners to aggregate useful and critical information on how they are doing their part to keep their employees and customers safe during COVID-19. Recently, FRA went back to some of those same contacts to update this information to make sure it accurately captures what those in the forest products industry are doing during COVID-19.

Below you can find information and suggestions concerning best practices on social distancing, work procedures, and travel as submitted by FRA members and our industry partners. All information is anonymous. Please note that this information below are suggestions from FRA members and industry partners only based upon their own procedures. Please reference the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration websites for additional COVID-19 safety recommendations.


Recommendations to ensure social distancing and limited face to face contact:

  • Avoid direct contact with others.
  • Office doors shall stay locked at all times.
  • Find alternative means of communication in the field instead of face-to-face. Employees should be encouraged to use telephones, online conferencing, email, or instant messaging systems to conduct business as much as possible, even when participants are in the same building.
  • If a face-to-face meeting is unavoidable, minimize the meeting time, choose a large meeting room, and sit at least one yard from each other if possible; avoid person-to-person contact such as shaking hands.
  • Do not congregate in work rooms, pantries, copier rooms or other areas where people socialize.
  • Do not allow passengers in your vehicles.
  • Work at home as much as possible.
  • Bring lunch and eat at your desk or away from others (avoid lunchrooms and crowded restaurants).
  • Encourage employees and others to request pick-up/delivery information and orders via phone and e-mail to minimize person-to-person contact. Have the orders, materials, and information ready for fast pick-up or delivery.
  • Stagger lunch breaks to minimize crowds in break room.
  • Suspend employee lunch celebrations / trainings with carry in meals.
  • Suspend or limit recreational activities on property (fishing / hunting).
  • Conduct virtual meetings when possible.
  • Run with rotating breaks so no more than two people are in a break room at a time, one if at all possible. 
  • Limit the number of contractors working onsite and restricting all visitors. 
  • Initiate a ban on outside visitors other than product deliveries and contractors essential to operations.
  • Implement a process in shipping for exchanging paperwork with truck drivers. Drivers remain in their truck.
  • Allow only employees or contractors on job sites.
  • Modify workstation layouts to ensure all employees maintain social distancing of at least six feet.
  • Ensure all workers wear a mask accordance with CDC and OSHA guidance and any state or local requirements.

When an employee is sick:

  • Employees should not be attending work if sick with symptoms such as; cough, body aches, fever, or difficulty breathing.
  • If an employee is identified as being sick at work, the employee should be sent home and the items/areas that he/she was in contact with should be disinfected immediately.
  • The best way not to infect others is to not be around others if you are sick.
  • Implement a mandatory 14-day self-quarantines for potentially exposed.
  • Complete a risk assessment and follow a contact-tracing process to determine the extent of potential contact in the workplace.
  • To limit future exposures, consider tracking employees who have had COVID-19.

Cleaning procedures:

  • Wash your hands frequently and do not touch your face, nose and ears.
  • Promote hand washing often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use of hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Make sure to sanitize all work areas daily and the common equipment after each use.
  • Doorknobs and high contact areas are sanitized several times per day.
  • Institute a plan with their assigned cleaning staff or employees to disinfect common surfaces (vending equipment, communication devices, door handles, stair rails, etc.) in their area.
  • Implement a daily cleaning schedule in every work area. Audit cleaning schedules daily.
  • In Operations, operators must clean the control panels/screens at the beginning of their shift to ensure there is no transfer of any virus from one operator to another by touching the equipment.
  • When exiting a machine or truck for the day or to move to a different machine, sanitize the controls.
  • Use NanoSeptic on common areas like door pulls. It is a self-cleaning antiseptic surface.

Recommended COVID-19 preventative items or technology:

  • Provide PPE (personal protective equipment).
  • Distribute two-way radios for communication.
  • Ensure access to virtual meeting technologies.
  • Provide hand sanitizer. 
  • Consider installing kiosks at building entrances that use AI facial recognition technology and also takes body temperatures.
  • Provide each site with detailed health and safety guidance for preparation and response to COVID-19 exposure.
  • Post signs to help build awareness about best practices for reducing exposure and risk.
  • Consider recommending that employees use Exposure Notification systems — phone apps that track potential exposures and support contact-tracing efforts.

Travel advisories during COVID-19:

  • Avoid any unnecessary travel and cancel or postpone nonessential meetings, gatherings, workshops, and training sessions.
  • Suspend international travel and nonessential domestic travel. Business travel should be permitted only if it is critical to business operations.
  • Be aware and up to date with your state’s “stay at home orders.”
  • Halt all air travel.
  • One respondent shared questions that were being asked of employees entering their facilities:
    • Have you traveled to a country or state that is included on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) risk assessment list for travelers related to COVID-19 within the past 14 days?
    • Have you knowingly directly come in contact with someone that has traveled to a country or state that is included on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) risk assessment list for travelers related to COVID-19 within the past 14 days?
    • Have you knowingly come in contact with a person with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the past 14 days?
    • If you answered yes to any of the questions above, you are not permitted to enter our facility until 14 days after the date in which the last potential contact could have occurred.
    • For our records, please indicate the date on which the potential contact would have last occurred.

Additional recommendations:

  • Screen all who enter your sites. 
  • Take extra care with accepting shipments from FedEx and UPS. Spray the boxes with Lysol.
  • Recommend employees bring what they need with them into the facility (instead of using lockers) and keep other items in their vehicle.
  • Assign a specific machine to each employee until further notice. Do not let employees operate other employees’ assigned machines without proper approval from their supervisor. If approval is granted the machine will be sufficiently sanitized before the operator enters the cab.