BC Forest Safety Council | Safety is good business

Skidder operator suffers concussion, whiplash

Safety Alert Type: 
Heavy Equipment
Johnson Lake (near Barriere, BC)
Date of Incident / Close Call: 
Company Name: 
Interfor Corporation (Adams Lake Division)
Details of Incident / Close Call: 

A skidder operator blacked out while bringing in his second drag of the day. When he woke up a few moments later, he had no recollection as to what happened. He had a headache and a sore neck and back.

The medical examination indicated a concussion due to a bump on the head behind the left ear and also whiplash. The doctor recommended rest for a few days.

The skidder was a CAT 535. The operator was wearing his seatbelt. At the location of the incident, snow had melted and a 40 cm stump was visible along the skid trail.

The investigation speculates that the operator either hit the stump with his blade or drove over it with a tire, which may have caused an unexpected and abrupt movement of the skidder.

It is thought that the operator both hit his head on the Roll Over Protection structure (ROPs) and also whiplashed his back and neck.

(pdf of this alert is attached)

Learnings and Suggestions: 
  • In machines where the ROPs are in close proximity to the operator, consider installing padding or requiring the operator to wear a helmet or hard hat while in the cab.
  • Teach skidder operators to watch for changing conditions, especially melting snow, which can expose previously buried hazards.
  • Ensure lighting is adequate, considering both the machine lights and daylight, especially in areas with variable terrain features.
  • Evaluate the ergonomics of machine seats and that they match the height and weight of the operator. Consider using a seat with a headrest and seatbelts that harness in the shoulders.
  • Keep skidder blade up high enough to avoid catching on stumps or other debris.


For more information on this submitted alert: 

Ed Coombes, Interfor Corporation Adams Lake Division (250) 679-6863

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Serious Near Miss: Decked logs collapse and slide down hill

Safety Alert Type: 
Northern Interior Region
Date of Incident / Close Call: 
Company Name: 
CANFOR Forest Management Group
Details of Incident / Close Call: 

A Supervisor and Processor Operator had just finished a log quality sample and were standing on the road next to a deck of 12’ logs.

One of the logs on the deck shifted causing the entire deck to collapse and slide down the hill despite having appeared to be stable just moments earlier.

Luckily no one was in the “line of fire”.

(pdf of this Alert is attached)

Learnings and Suggestions: 

Identified Hazards

  • 12’ logs were decked on ~25% slope due to the limited decking space available in the cut block.
  • The low side of the log deck was supported only using compacted snow as fill.
  • Warmer weather conditions altered the stability of the snow underneath the log deck.

Preventative Actions:

  • Operators must consider the slope of the ground and the height of the decking area before actually building the deck.
  • Position logs perpendicular to the lower side of the log deck as supportive cribbing – do not only use snow.
  • Consider leaving high stumps along roadside decking areas in order to support the logs being used to level out log decks.
  • In extreme cases, consider building a trail to provide a flatter and more stable location for the log deck and working equipment.
  • Always forward/skid logs to a more suitable location if they cannot be decked safely.


For more information on this submitted alert: 

Tyson von den Steinen, RPF Manager – Safety & Continuous Improvement, Forest Management Group – Canfor Direct: (250) 962-3229 Cell: (250) 960-8148

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DANGER: Winter conditions on BC’s highways

Safety Alert Type: 
Paved Roads
Highway 5 just North of Otter Creek (north Thompson region)
Date of Incident / Close Call: 
Company Name: 
Stamer Logging Ltd.
Details of Incident / Close Call: 

Following a snowstorm on February 2, the highways were poorly maintained north of the town of Clearwater. There was compact snow and ice completely covering the highway. Early the following morning it was snowing again, on top of the already slippery conditions.

A buncherman was going to work in a company pick up and was following another northbound vehicle at a safe distance, when he noticed a southbound transport truck that appeared to swerve before meeting the vehicle in front of him. He immediately began slowing down.

The northbound vehicle in front of him just barely made it by in front of the transport truck which had lost all control.

The transport truck’s trailer was off the road and the truck was sideways sliding down the road towards the buncherman in the pickup. Finally the trailer flipped over after hitting a power pole, causing the truck to land on its side and slide down the highway until it stopped about 15 or 20 feet from the pickup’s front bumper (see photo in attached pdf).

The driver and sleeper team were able to get themselves out from the overturned tractor unit, where they were both standing on top of the cab, after having climbed out of the driver’s door. The pickup was parked with the four way flashers going and the headlights pointed at the overturned truck on the road, but visibility from the North was very poor.

Another southbound semi-truck came around the corner into view, and the buncherman determined that it was not safe to be on the road near the overturned truck. He yelled to the two men standing on top of the truck that they were likely to be hit by the oncoming truck and then he ran southward down the highway to the pickup.

The driver of the second semi-truck did see the wreck in time and safely stopped his vehicle.

This very easily could have resulted in serious injuries to several people or fatalities. We believe the first truck was travelling too fast for road conditions, and was in the wrong lane at least partially when he met the vehicle in front of the pickup and then he swerved to get back in his own lane and lost control of his vehicle.

Learnings and Suggestions: 

Continually be aware of changing road conditions – especially in winter. SLOW DOWN. Everyone wants to make it home at night at the end of their work day.

For more information on this submitted alert: 

Glenda Feller, Stamer Logging Ltd. (250) 672-9555

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January 2015 - Speed and Driving For Conditions

Safety Alert Type: 
British Columbia
Company Name: 
BC Forest Safety Council
Details of Incident / Close Call: 

“C’mon Rob, you’re holding me up. I’m a half-hour late and I’ve got 2 more trips to make after this one.”

“Good morning Keith. A few of these corners looked a little slick on the way in. And now that the sun is coming onto these shaded corners, I’m going to take it easy. I’ll let you by at the 8 board.”

Speed - driving too fast for conditions - remains the number one contributor to fatal motor vehicle crashes in BC. Each fall, the number of people killed or injured in a crash as a result of driving too fast for conditions spikes upwards - nearly doubling.

What is a safe speed? It is not simply the greatest speed at which you can "keep ‘er on the road." Safe speed includes obligations to drive at a speed that does not generate undue risks, and to apply behaviours that provide a margin of error - for you and other drivers. Determining the speed that’s right for conditions is a mental calculation involving three dynamic variables: the vehicle, the driving environment, and the driver.

The Vehicle

It only takes a few minutes to conduct regular vehicle inspections and there’s plenty of good information available to help you inspect, maintain and prepare your vehicle. A well maintained vehicle will perform as you expect, which is especially important in an emergency situation.

Whether you're hauling a load of logs, driving the service truck or a 4x4, a load impacts vehicle handling dynamics. A heavy load increases stopping distance. Extra weight changes the centre of gravity and generates momentum that tends to carry the vehicle straight ahead. An unbalanced load decreases vehicle stability and impairs the vehicle’s response to driver inputs. Reduce your speed to adapt to these changes in vehicle handling.

The Driving Environment

Driving decisions must accurately consider the physical environment. Drivers have to think about the road (e.g. surface materials, lane width, sighting distance, grade, etc.) and the weather. More importantly, your calculations have to account for how these factors influence visibility, traction and vehicle performance.

Equally critical components of the driving environment are other vehicles, drivers, and surprises. "Driving for conditions" includes understanding the risk that a pedestrian, plough truck or moose may suddenly appear in front of you. Your driving behaviours must acknowledge the presence of other traffic, and allow for the possibility that the vehicle ahead might not have proper winter tires, or might not be operated by a skilled winter driver.

To make quality decisions, drivers must actively scan their entire driving environment to collect necessary information. Look as far ahead as you can see, then watch the road surface in front of you. Check your mirrors. Watch the ditches. Glance at the gauges. Select and use relevant information. The patch of black ice, the curve ahead, the pedestrian crossing and the oncoming bus all matter. The lovely sunset, the sale at Wal-Mart, your hair-do and your cell phone don’t.

Applying that information effectively requires drivers to be constantly assessing the driving environment. Experienced drivers understand that "shine" on the corner means "very slick". All drivers, especially inexperienced drivers, need to recognize they might make mistakes, or that their calculations might be "off" - and slow down a little.

The Driver

The third element - the part that ties it all together - is the driver. Many factors influence a driver’s capacity to make prompt, correct decisions, and their ability to execute quick, effective responses. Consider the points below. Conduct an honest self-assessment. How often, and to what extent do you allow these factors to influence your driving behaviours?

Factors that support correct decisions and quick reaction times:

  • Driving experience
  • Well-rested and alert
  • Patience
  • Expectation / anticipation
  • Proper hydration and diet
  • Physical / mental fitness

Factors that contribute to poor decisions and slower reaction times:

  • Over-confidence / complacency
  • Fatigue or other impairment
  • Aggressive attitude
  • Cognitive load - "things on your mind"
  • Declining vision, reduced visibility

The speed that is right for you recognizes your state of mind, your skills and your limitations.

Driving is a complex activity. Yet, driving for conditions can be boiled down to being prepared with a road-worthy vehicle, looking for and paying attention to important cues in your entire driving environment, choosing a speed that’s right for those conditions, and watching out for the other guy.

“I’m just giving you a hard time, Rob. You’re doing just fine, young fella. We have to tighten up after the junction, so I’ll slip by you there. Once we’re on the blacktop switch over to 44, and I’ll let you know if I see any big surprises.”

“Thanks for your patience, Keith. I’m having a pretty good first winter, and I aim to keep it that way.”


BC Forest Safety’s Transportation Webpage - keep up to date on the latest safety developments.

DriveBC - check road and weather conditions before you plan your journey

Shift Into Winter - learn how to prepare the driver and the vehicle for winter conditions

Road Safety At Work - vehicle inspection and maintenance tips



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Worker in medical distress should seek assistance instead of driving to hospital

Safety Alert Type: 
Cariboo region (near Williams Lake)
Date of Incident / Close Call: 
Company Name: 
Newco Logging
Details of Incident / Close Call: 

An equipment operator advised the mechanic (who was the only other person on site) that he was experiencing chest pain and therefore drove himself to town for medical attention.

The Level 3 first aid attendant who was working in the geographic area on a different road was informed of this and tried to catch up with the equipment operator. Meantime, the office in Williams Lake was advised of the situation and made a call to send out an ambulance to intercept the worker’s vehicle on its way to town.

A call then came in from a trucking contractor, whose driver stopped the equipment operator on the road to administer first aid and await the ambulance. The emergency vehicle met the distressed worker and transported him the rest of the way to hospital, where he received medical treatment.

Learnings and Suggestions: 

When a worker has a medical concern, he should not self-diagnose and assume “it’s nothing serious” then proceed to drive himself to town. Treat the situation as an emergency.

For more information on this submitted alert: 

Glen Williamson (250) 392-7522

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2014 Summary

Safety Alert Type: 
British Columbia
Date of Incident / Close Call: 
Company Name: 
BC Forest Safety Council
Details of Incident / Close Call: 

Forest Harvesting Fatality Summary

All statistics are based on information available at time of publishing. For current information, please see the statistics page.

A total of four (4) direct harvesting fatalities were reported to the BC Forest Safety Council in 2014.

These incidents were:
Dec. 7, 2014 -
A faller was fatally injured while bucking a tree at a helicopter logging operation on Vancouver Island. When the faller cut off the top section of the tree, the root wad section shifted and pinned the faller to the ground.

Sept. 10, 2014 - While driving to work, the worker’s vehicle went off the resource road which resulted in fatal injuries. (Please note: This incident was not previously published in a safety alert as the incident investigation was still in progress.)

Sept. 2, 2014 - A faller was fatally injured while falling four limb-tied trees in the Seymour Inlet area. The faller lost control of all four trees, with all of them falling towards him.

May 26, 2014 - A chokerman was fatally injured when a skyline cable contacted a leave tree in the block and caused it to fall and strike the worker.

Of the four fatalities above, the December 7th incident happened late in the year and will likely be reported in the 2015 accepted claims data. Accepted claims are workplace injuries or fatalities that have been reported to WorkSafeBC and qualify for compensation payments.

In addition to the fatalities above, WorkSafeBC also accepted claims in 2014 for four fatalities from prior years.

Two of these incidents occurred in 2013 and were included in previous BC Forest Safety Council Fatality Alerts:

Jan. 7, 2013 - An empty logging truck heading east on Highway 16 collided with the trailer of a loaded lumber transport truck heading west that had jack-knifed.

Oct. 24, 2013 - A pilot was trying to maneuver a floatplane into position to land when it crashed onto a small island.

In the other two fatalities, forest harvesting workers died in 2014 due to complications from injuries which occurred in the distant past.

The BC Forest Safety Council also tracks associated fatality information but this information is not published in our alerts. Associated fatalities involve people who do not directly work in our industry, but died as a result of an incident related to the industry, for example – a collision with a logging truck. Contact our Nanaimo office at 1-877-741-1060 if you require additional information on these types of incidents.

All fatalities no matter when they occur are tragic events and the BC Forest Safety Council (BCFSC) extends sincere condolences to the family members and co-workers of those workers who were lost.

The BCFSC will continue to support industry in further reducing fatalities and serious injuries in 2015. Sharing the knowledge from incident investigations is one way to improve the industry’s safety performance. The Safety Alerts webpage contains incident information submitted by forest companies from across the province. See http://www.bcforestsafe.org/safety_info/alerts_bulletins.html

 WorkSafe BC Accepted Harvesting Fatality Claims Graph for 2014

*Please Note: There are 4 fatalities the BC Forest Safety Council is aware of that occurred in 2014. WorkSafeBC tracks fatalities by the year in which they accept the claim. WorkSafeBC has accepted three of the four fatalities from 2014 in 2014, and is reviewing the fourth which occurred later in the year and will likely accept it in 2015. WorkSafeBC has also accepted 4 fatalities from prior years during 2014.

We use the WorkSafeBC data of accepted claims for trends, although it may not specifically indicate current year fatalities, it is the only long term data base for comparative purposes.

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Snowmobiles in near miss with crew truck

Safety Alert Type: 
Resource Roads
Resource road southeast of Wells, BC
Date of Incident / Close Call: 
Company Name: 
Westforest Consulting Ltd.
Details of Incident / Close Call: 

A Westforest Consulting forestry crew was proceeding south on the 3100 Road at approximately 9:00 a.m. when two snowmobiles entered onto the roadway via a steep, obscured ATV trail that approaches from the right side near 3110 km.

One sled proceeded ahead of the Westforest pickup and one followed behind. The pickup driver pulled over and motioned for the following sled to pass. Both sleds then proceeded up the 3100 Road ahead of the crew, at times travelling on a flattened grader-winged berm along the side of the road and at times travelling directly on the snow-packed roadway.

The Westforest driver & passenger had occasional sightings of the sleds travelling ahead of them as they continued to proceed south along the narrow, winding roadway. At approximately 14 km, the Westforest pickup began to overtake the rearmost sled which was travelling at a reduced speed in a narrow clearing to the right of the grader berm on the right side of the road.

The Westforest driver pulled to the far left side of the road and slowed to a speed that would be only fast enough to allow him to pass the sled, which appeared to be slowed by the deeper snow or obstacles in the clearing.

Just as the Westforest vehicle began to pass the sled, it veered out of the narrow clearing, up across the grader berm, then out onto the roadway. When the sled landed on the roadway, the sled operator was thrown off and both sled and operator came to a stop within 1-2m of the passenger’s door of the Westforest pickup, which by this time was travelling at a very slow rate of speed.

Learnings and Suggestions: 

The near miss incident was discussed with field staff at a safety meeting the following morning. Immediate & root causes were identified as follows:

Root Cause: The primary root cause lay in the prohibited travel of the snowmobiles along the active public roadway. For the purposes of our investigation, however, it was determined that the Westforest driver failed to adequately assess the risk/hazard that the snowmobile presence on the roadway represented. Although exercising significant caution, the driver could have been more cognizant of the possibility that the sled involved in the near miss could lose control or otherwise act erratically.

Immediate Cause: The Westforest driver should not have attempted to overtake the sled until he was certain that the sled operator was aware of his intention to pass.

Field crews were advised to exercise extreme caution between 8 and 16 km on the 3100 Road as, in spite of its current heavy industrial use, this stretch of road is not infrequently used as a travel corridor by snowmobilers on their way to a popular snowmobile recreation area that is accessed via a branch road that leaves the 3100 Road near 3115 km.

The Westforest Safety Coordinator forwarded a copy of the near miss investigation (CAL) to the following:

• Quesnel MFLNRO

• West Fraser Woodlands

• Wells RCMP detachment

• Wells Snowmobile Club

For more information on this submitted alert: 

Reg LeBlanc, Safety Coordinator - Westforest Consulting Ltd. (250) 747-3101

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Serious Incident: Processor head feeds tree into cab, breaking trainee operator’s leg

Safety Alert Type: 
Heavy Equipment
57 km’s north of Fort St. James
Date of Incident / Close Call: 
Company Name: 
Newland Enterprises Ltd.
Details of Incident / Close Call: 

A trainee was on his third day on the job, operating a tree processor. Somehow he accidentally bumped the ‘Auto Repeat’, which automatically feeds the tree through the head after a saw cut.

The processor head was turned towards the cab in an attempt to eject the tree into the brush pile, but instead it came directly at the cab, piercing a hole through the half-inch thick Lexan cab window (see photos in attached pdf).

The tree passed between the steel bars as well and continued forward, striking the operator’s leg and breaking it severely.

The trainee operator was able to call for help on the radio. He was tended to by co-workers before being transported to hospital in Fort St. James.

Immediate Cause(s):

• Failure to follow safe work practices or rules: The processor head should not be positioned in this manner.

• Improper use of equipment: The auto-repeat is only used in rare cases, not for daily production.

• Inadequate grip or hold: The operator’s right hand may have slipped, causing it to engage the auto-repeat button.

Description of Root Cause(s):

• Inadequate assessment of needs, risks and/or hazards: The trainee operator was unaware of the potential hazard of the processor head’s auto-repeat function.

• Inadequate training standards: More awareness and understanding of the auto-repeat feature is required as well as its location on the key pad.

Learnings and Suggestions: 

• The auto-repeat function was disabled the following day

• The incident will be discussed at the next crew safety meeting

• Machine functions and safe operating procedures will be reviewed with workers

For more information on this submitted alert: 

Steve Willick, Newland Enterprises Ltd. (250) 996-8838

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Grader slides, then rolls over while snow clearing on Forest Service Road

Safety Alert Type: 
Resource Roads
Holyk Forest Service Road (near Revelstoke)
Date of Incident / Close Call: 
Company Name: 
Downie Timber Ltd. (Woodlands Division)
Details of Incident / Close Call: 

At roughly 5:00 a.m. a grader operator was relocating a grader (750A Champion model) to clean up excess snow from a branch road that could not be previously cleaned due to sloppy, wet, heavy snow conditions. Cooler temperatures and good ground freezing made conditions more suitable for road cleaning.

The machine was in good repair - last being inspected in the mechanics shop on Nov 5, 2014. A logging contractor’s loader was blocking access on the road so the contractor moved the machine so the grader operator could get by and proceed with clearing the road.

The grader operator was driving the machine with the wings up in first gear. While moving up the road past an existing slide path and into an area where the road pitch increases slightly, the grader “hopped” a bit and the machine’s engine stalled. Due to the machine configuration, when the engine stalled the operator lost braking function, hydraulics and power steering. The secondary steering mechanism is arm strong and very difficult to control.

When the grader stalled it began to roll backwards down the road. The operator fought to steer the machine towards a holding wall that was constructed in the fall (attempted to drop pans with the float button) but the machine picked up speed and he could not control the direction of movement.

The machine travelled backwards down the road grade for 44 metres. At this point it tipped over the road cut backwards and started to slide down the boundary of the cut block and the existing slide path. The machine caught on a hummock in the ground causing it to flip violently and roll. The front end of the grader caught on a mature cedar tree, coming to rest on its right side 31 metres down slope from the road (see photos in attached pdf).

The operator was shaken up but able to climb out through the broken front window of the machine and walk a short distance down the road to where the logging contractor was working. Luckily, the grader operator escaped this incident with a minor cut to the top of his head and some muscle stiffness.

Learnings and Suggestions: 

Companies should be inspecting their machines to ensure that they have sufficient secondary braking and steering mechanisms and ensuring that equipment being used is engineered for the conditions in which they are working.

Although not a contributing factor, the company is also implementing a policy that heavily snowed-in work should be carried out during day light hours when visibility is good.

For more information on this submitted alert: 

Downie Timber Ltd. Woodlands Division (250) 837-2222

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Feller-Buncher operator accidently cuts into old cable; Piece is launched, embedding in Lexan window of cab

Safety Alert Type: 
Mechanical Tree Falling
Near Buckley Bay, BC
Date of Incident / Close Call: 
Company Name: 
Antler Creek Logging Ltd.
Details of Incident / Close Call: 

A Feller-Buncher operator was about to harvest a tree when the saw head on his machine came into contact with some old cable that was left on the ground from previous logging.

The saw head cut into the cable and launched a piece of it into the front Lexan window of the cab. The piece became embedded between the 1st and 2nd layers of the Lexan (see photos in attached pdf).

Learnings and Suggestions: 

This incident is a reminder of the importance of ensuring the Lexan window material used is rated to the machine.

For more information on this submitted alert: 

Contact Bill Boyes, Operations Manager, Antler Creek Logging Ltd, at antlercreeklogging@shaw.ca 

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