State of Danger Tree Blasting in BC - a review

State of Danger Tree Blasting in BC - a preliminary review.

Submitted by Integra Forest Consulting Ltd.

Abstract

Interviews with thirty-one faller blasters in British Columbia were undertaken in the autumn of 2011 to determine their level of use of dangerous tree (DT) blasting and to explore any impediments to using this technique. In addition, blasting records of six DT blasters were reviewed to determine the average costs of blasting. Of those who were interviewed, 35% have yet to use DT blasting at their workplace, while 35% of the respondents use it frequently to regularly. The techniques used most by the respondents are window blasting (65%) and root blasting (58%), although root blasting is used more frequently (21% use root blasting regularly compared to only 13% who use window blasting on a regular basis). The average cost of using powder to perform a DT blast was $70.64 per blast (based upon records of 46 blasts).

Coastal blasting is working moderately well but there is still resistance by some contractors and licensees to have the fallers do their own blasting. In the Interior, faller blasters have not been using their training because of limited to no access to powder in their worksites. Blasting by fallers is also perceived with varying levels of skepticism by the industry.

The DT blasting program needs to be further promoted by WorkSafeBC and the BC Forest Safety Council. In particular, the impediments to accessing powder need to be removed so that blasting is more available to fallers working in helicopter logging operations and fallers who work in the Interior. As a practice, blasting needs to be embraced as an integral 'tool' that fallers should not have to go without. Fallers working in decadent timber or rugged terrain with large diameter trees must have DT blasting readily available to help reduce the level of risk-taking. Safety performance and crew morale are greatly improved when fallers have DT blasting as an integral part of their safety plan. One cannot put a price on the cost of saving a faller's life by having DT blasting readily available - it is simply the right thing to do!

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