Canadian Forestry Accidents Too High

Seven workers have been killed in the woods in New Brunswick, Canada in the past year as a result of being hit by falling trees, cut by chainsaws or burned.

An analysis by the New Brunswick Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission (WHSCC) has pointed to a number of basic causes for these accidents.

"Unsafe working techniques, lack of protective equipment, lack of first aid knowledge and lack of supervision seem to be at the root of many serious accidents in the forest industry," said Brian Connell, vice-president of Prevention Services for WHSCC. "These accidents have predominantly affected the small operators, rather than large industry."

In order to reach the small operators, WHSCC has teamed up with the Federation of Woodlot Owners and the Department of Natural Resources (DNRE) on a joint initiative to increase the awareness, education and training for New Brunswick woodworkers.

"Proper training for small operators is an essential element for improving safety in the woods," said Dale Wilson of DNRE's Forestry Extension Services. "We hope that by working together, we'll help make this industry safer for our woodworkers."

A plan has been developed to establish an awareness and training program for woodworkers.

Among other things, WHSCC, along with the Maritimes Forest Ranger School, has developed a 20 minute video on safe working techniques, which will be distributed through the Federation of Woodlot Owners and forest products marketing boards, as well as through WHSCC. A whole series of educational material has also been developed and distributed to the industry.

"Our goal is to expand opportunities for workers to learn about safe cutting/logging operations before this year's harvesting season began," said Ken Hardie of the Federation of Woodlot Owners. "Ultimately, we'd like to have a sustainable development training program suitable for small operators. Logistically, these small operators are the hardest ones to reach in our forests and without proper training, they're at risk for injury."

WHSCC said the initiative is aimed at wood harvesters, contractors and woodlot owners, though we expect it will reach members of the general public who also undertake wood cutting activities, albeit on a smaller scale," concluded Connell.

For more information about the video or educational material related to the forest industry visit WHSCC Web site at www.whscc.nb.ca.

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