Job Factors Associated with Occupational Injuries and Deaths in the United States Forestry Industry
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Job Factors Associated with Occupational Injuries and Deaths in the United States Forestry Industry

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  • Alternative Title:
    Chem Eng Trans
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    Work in the forestry industry is recognised internationally as high risk for occupational injuries and deaths. Forestry logging operations generally involve felling trees, skidding (moving trees and logs from the stump to the point of delivery), and transporting trees to mills. Loggers need to recognize the hazards associated with identifying dangerous (dead) trees, felling, delimbing, bucking, debarking, chipping, skidding, yarding, loading, unloading, and transporting logs. The purpose of this study was to determine the specific work conditions and job factors that workers identified as greatest risk for injury or death in logging operations in the intermountain region of Montana and Idaho. The study investigators recruited professional loggers through logging companies and professional logging associations in the states of Idaho and Montana. The professional loggers were asked to participate in focus group meetings regarding their perception of the association between logging tasks and logging injuries / deaths. One focus group session of 16 participants for 90 minutes was conducted and moderated by the investigators. The focus group moderator posed a series of questions designed to promote group discussion regarding logging practices and injuries. Injury data from workers' compensation reports was also shared with the participants and served as a basis for the focus group questions. Felling trees was often associated with injuries sustained from falling branches. Conventional chainsaw logging and skyline skidding were perceived as high-risk processes. Loggers indicated that being struck by the carriage attached to the skyline was a significant risk. Other risks identified included being hit by the butt of swinging trees when that became snagged or caught on tree stumps as they were being skidded up the slope. Workers identified working on steep slopes as well as working in below freezing temperatures as a major risk for injury. Physical fatigue while performing strenuous work for 8-10 hours was also identified as a risk for injury. The results of this study identified work conditions (extreme cold temperatures, steep incline of mountain slope), as well as job factors (felling trees, skyline skidding, driving logging trucks) that professional loggers perceived as contributing to increased risk for occupational related injury and death. The conditions and factors identified will be used to target interventions that reduce the risk of logging injuries in the future. Due to the remote nature of the logging work in this region, emergency first-aid training among the crewmembers was thought to be a critical part of logging safety. A culture promoting safety was also stressed for professional loggers.
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