One of the oldest practices in the country, logging is also among the most dangerous.
Not only are loggers at constant risk from falling trees and logs, but perilous environmental conditions and difficult-to-operate equipment as well.
In an effort to mitigate these risks, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) oversees local emphasis programs in frequently-logged areas throughout the country. Under such a program, this month, OSHA issued more than a dozen willful and serious violations to a West Virginia logging company for failing to adequately protect its employees.
The company, A and S Tree Service Inc., faces two willful violations, including permitting employees to ride as passengers on a dozer without using an assigned seat or safety belt, which could have resulted in crushing injuries if workers fell off. The company was also cited for willfully allowing an employee to drop start a chainsaw, exposing him to possible severe cuts or lacerations.
The serious violations include several instances of inadequate personal protective equipment, including employees not wearing required heavy-duty leather boots or face protection while operating a chainsaw. In addition, the company faces citations for allowing a bulldozer operator to ride over rough terrain without using a seatbelt, as well as felling trees without proper undercuts, which help control the tree's fall. A and S Tree Services now faces $44,000 in fines.
"Loggers who manually fell trees with chainsaws are exposed to the greatest logging risks, making it critical for employers to ensure safeguards are in place to prevent injuries or death," said Prentice Cline, director of OSHA's Charleston Office. "Compliance with OSHA's logging standard will eliminate many of the fatal accidents and greatly reduce the number of lost work day injuries occurring in the logging industry."
In 2015, 27 percent of all occupational fatalities in West Virginia occurred in logging.
Many of these violations could have been avoided if A and S had worked with a safety management services company to develop an adequate accident prevention plan for its worksite. To learn more about how Safety Advantage could help your company achieve OSHA compliance, contact us today.