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Tree Wells: Life-threatening to work or recreation as winter changes to spring

Safety Alert Type: 
Weather
Location: 
British Columbia
Date of Incident / Close Call: 
2018-03-16
Company Name: 
BC Forest Safety Council
Details of Incident / Close Call: 

(Note: in light of recent public fatalities this alert has been re-posted, as the information continues to be relevant and valuable. It was originally posted in February 2012)

As a worker stepped away from his snowmobile, he fell in a deep tree well of a small balsam. The tree well had over 6 feet of snow depth. The fallen worker’s head was below the level of his co-worker’s feet on top of the snow.

The co-worker was able to help the worker by carefully digging enough snow away from the worker and then using the snowmobile, which was on packed ground, as a base of support for pulling the worker out. No injuries occurred.

Related Information: The branches of the tree shelter the area surrounding the tree trunk from snowfall. Thus a pocket of air or loose snow can form in the vicinity of the trunk.

The risk of encountering a tree well is greatest during and immediately following a heavy snowstorm.

Low hanging branches further contribute to forming a tree well, as they efficiently shelter the area surrounding the trunk. It is a potential risk with trees in deep snow no matter the diameter of the tree. Wells can also occur near rocks, along streams and in heavy regen with snow press. When a person falls into a tree-well, it’s incredibly difficult to climb back out. The loose snow can prevent the person from breathing, resulting in what is known as a Non-Avalanche Related Snow Immersion Death, or, in plain English, suffocation by snow.

Two experiments conducted in the U.S. and Canada found that 90 per cent of volunteers who were placed temporarily in tree wells were unable to rescue themselves. Furthermore, it was also noted that most people will not call out for help right away as they either feel that they should be able to dig themselves out or are embarrassed to ask for help. However, the more the person struggles the more entrapped in the snow they become as more snow falls into the hole, re-burying them.

Calling for assistance should be your first course of action. Take precautions working in areas where deep tree wells are a concern!

Learnings and Suggestions: 

Here are some suggestions for avoiding and dealing with entrapment if you fall in a deep tree well:

  • Work in pairs.
  • If you slide into a well try to remain upright. Landing head first creates a much deadlier scenario.
  • Grab a tree trunk or branch, or hug the tree if possible. Anything to stay above the surface!
  • Yell, radio or use a whistle to alert partners. Getting help on the way may save your life, especially as fatigue and hypothermia may become a factor.
  • Create and maintain a direct line of air if your head is below the snow line. Being able to breathe is priority.
  • Try to remain calm and wait for help. Move your body carefully in a rocking manner to hollow out and pack the snow. This will give you space and air.

As a co-worker:

  • Know where your partner is working and remain in close distance/ communication.
  • Remember, if your partner is buried under the snow, time is of the essence and your quick actions to pull or dig them out are your partner's best hope for survival. In most cases, you are the only hope.
  • Make sure the ground you are standing on is packed and will not cause a further cave in. Radio for help, but stay there until you have recovered your partner. Make attempts to uncover the head first and help create an airway.
  • When you uncover their head, make sure there is no snow in the mouth and that they can breathe. Proceed to help dig them out, but ensure that the direct line of air is maintained.

The winter of 2017-18 has seen a high volume of snow. Always be alert and watch your footing around the base of a tree or large rocks.

Slow down when approaching these dangerous zones and make sure that your footing is on ground that will hold you. If you feel yourself starting to sink down, try to back away to avoid sliding into the well.

For your safety, you should assume all trees have a hazardous tree well. Fortunately, the risk of falling into a tree well is completely avoidable.

For more information on this submitted alert: 

BC Forest Safety Council 1-877-741-1060

File attachments
Hazard_Alert_Tree_Wells-Mar-2018.pdf

HAZARD: Snow banks obstruct signs and vision on resource roads

Safety Alert Type: 
Resource Roads
Location: 
BC Interior
Date of Incident / Close Call: 
2018-02-26
Company Name: 
Gorman Bros. Lumber Ltd.
Details of Incident / Close Call: 

The snow pack is above average this year in parts of the BC interior. This accumulation of snow is creating several hazards on resource roads (see photos in attached PDF).

Snow banks/drifts are covering up important signage along the roads.

The roads can be narrower than normal making it difficult for vehicles to pass by each other. There may be fewer pullouts than you expect.

High snow banks can restrict your field of vision while driving, expecially on corners and intersections.

Learnings and Suggestions: 
  • Ask your grader operator to try to keep the road surface as wide as possible
  • Know your road, if you need a place to stop use an existing plowed pullout
  • If you see a sign that is covered in snow, consider pulling over at a safe location and cleaning the sign off.

 

For more information on this submitted alert: 

Jeff Hatch or Ross Duncan, Westbank, Gorman Bros. Lumber Ltd. (250) 768-5131

File attachments
Safety_Alert-Gorman_Bros_HighSnowBanksOnResourceRoads-Feb_26-2018.pdf

Worker pinned during unloading of snowmobile from pickup truck

Safety Alert Type: 
Vehicles
Location: 
Lumby, BC
Date of Incident / Close Call: 
2018-02-06
Company Name: 
Cabin Forestry Services
Details of Incident / Close Call: 

Two workers were unloading snowmobiles at the start of the work day when the worn out skags on one machine became stuck in the ramps and caused the equipment to get hung up.

The workers attempted to free the machine from the ramp but due to icy conditions, they were unable to gain enough traction to un-wedge the equipment. As there were no tools in the truck to remove the ski or the superglide mats, the decision was made to remove the ramp from the deck to reduce the resistance on the broken skag and free the snowmobile.

While one worker lifted and held the ramps in place, the other worker proceeded to pull the truck forward to clear the ramps. Once it was determined that the truck had been pulled far enough ahead, the driver proceeded to put the truck in reverse and exit the cab assuming that it was in park. As a result, the truck began to move backwards into the worker who was holding the ramps.

The truck impacted the ramps causing the ramps to become suspended on the sled deck and pinning the worker between the rungs in the ramp and the back of the truck. The driver meanwhile became aware of the situation and jumped back in the truck and stopped it from proceeding further backwards.

After the truck was stopped, the pinned worker was freed and an initial first aid assessment was completed. The workers then proceeded to load up the snowmobiles and return to the office. The pinned worked received minor injuries and bruising to the neck, arms, legs, back and required precautionary medical attention.

Learnings and Suggestions: 
  • Follow SOP’s when using equipment
  • Ensure proper communication between workers and verbally confirm steps to reduce risks of complacency
  • Ensure proper equipment is available to help mitigate upset conditions
  • When unloading equipment, ensure that a safe location is being used in the case of any upset conditions that require extra attention
  • When developing a plan to move equipment, make sure both parties are aware of the plan and steps needed to complete the task in a safe manner. Slow down and make sure extra steps are taken to ensure safety when working around equipment (eg: parking break, turn off vehicle prior to exiting the cab, keys cannot be removed if truck is not in park)
  • Utilize RADAR steps when faced with an upset condition.

 

For more information on this submitted alert: 

Keenan Clark – Cabin Forestry Services, Vernon, B.C., Phone: (778) 475-3655 safety@cabinforestry.com

 

File attachments
Safety_Alert-CabinForestryServices-SnowmobileUnloadingIncident-Feb_6-2018.pdf

Slippery ground in log yard leaves truck driver injured after slip and fall

Safety Alert Type: 
Worksites
Location: 
Northern Interior region
Date of Incident / Close Call: 
2018-02-09
Company Name: 
CANFOR
Details of Incident / Close Call: 

A log truck driver was loading his trailer in the log yard when the ground around the trailer loader was covered in snow & ice. The driver slipped and fell on the concrete pad while the trailer was being suspended, sustaining injuries to his back, shoulder, wrist, and head. The driver went to the scale shack and filled out a “Property Damage” report before going to the hospital to be checked out.

Potential Hazards

  • Slipping & falling due to poor footing where ground is covered with snow & ice
  • Slipping & falling under a suspended trailer
  • Complacency and/or not keeping eyes on task when weather conditions have increased the slipping hazards in the log yard
  • Not reporting slippery conditions as a hazard.

 

Learnings and Suggestions: 
  • Be mindful of slippery conditions when walking and getting in/out of truck at scales, dewrap stations, trailer hoists, and unloading site in log yards
  • All sites to review the effectiveness of their log yard maintenance programs to ensure all areas are maintained properly in a timely manner, especially after or during poor weather conditions
  • Sand boxes must be made available at higher risk locations for individuals to be able to directly spread sand when required
  • Wear the required proper footwear with good tread whenever walking outside in the log yard
  • Report all incidents to log yard supervisor, including hazards such as slippery conditions so they can be properly addressed in time.

Follow up questions to discuss with your worker: Can you tell me what you wear for footwear when you are walking in the logyard? How do you recognize slippery conditions and what do you do you to help ensure you don’t slip & fall?

For more information on this submitted alert: 

Tyson von den Steinen, Manager, Safety & Continuous Improvement

Tyson.vondenSteinen@canfor.com

 

File attachments
Safety_Alert-Canfor-SlipperyLogYard-Feb_9-2018.pdf

Tire rim explodes on skidder

Safety Alert Type: 
Heavy Equipment
Location: 
Northern Interior of BC
Date of Incident / Close Call: 
2017-12-02
Company Name: 
D Fehr Contracting Ltd.
Details of Incident / Close Call: 

A skidder operator was working when suddenly he heard a loud “BOOM”. He stopped right away and got out of his machine to see what happened and discovered one of his front rims had exploded and was split in half.

The rim was installed on the skidder only days before the incident, but no obvious cracks or breaks were noticed.

Had somebody been working on the rim or tire when it exploded, it could have caused serious injuries or death.

Learnings and Suggestions: 
  • Before working on a tire or rim always very carefully inspect rim
  • Never stand directly beside the tire when tire is being filled with air
  • Never exceed maximum air rating on tires.

 

For more information on this submitted alert: 

Tyson von den Steinen RPF Manager, Safety & Continuous Improvement Forest Management Group, Canadian Forest Products Ltd.

Tyson.vondenSteinen@canfor.com

 

 

File attachments
Safety_Alert-D Fehr Contracting Ltd-Skidder Rim Explodes-Dec 2-2017.pdf

Log truck takes out pole, powerlines brought down onto trailer bunk

Safety Alert Type: 
Vehicles
Location: 
Northern Interior Region
Date of Incident / Close Call: 
2018-01-09
Company Name: 
CANFOR
Details of Incident / Close Call: 

A log truck driver lost control of the truck before leaving the road, entering the ditch, and rolling over onto the driver side. The front bumper of the truck hit a power pole breaking it approximately 10 feet above the ground.

The power lines came loose from the top of the pole and remained suspended above the roadway and two lines became tangled in the log bunks.

The driver was luckily wearing a seatbelt at the time and was not injured; the driver had to break through the window in order to climb out of the truck.

Potential Hazards

  • Driving too fast for road conditions
  • Potential electrical shock due to exposure to broken powerlines that could have been still transmitting electricity
  • Fallen or broken power lines may be energized, even if they're not sparking, smoking or making a buzzing sound.

 

Learnings and Suggestions: 

If your vehicle contacts a power pole, follow these steps:

  • If you can safely drive away from the power pole, do so. Travel the length of a bus (10 metres or 33 feet) before stopping
  • If you can't drive the vehicle because you're injured, the vehicle is inoperable, or there are obstacles in your way - stay where you are. Do NOT get out of the vehicle unless there's an emergency, such as a fire in the vehicle

If you absolutely must exit the vehicle (e.g. because of a fire), do not to touch the vehicle and the ground at the same time with any part of your body or clothing and follow these steps:

1. Remove any loose-fitting clothing.

2. Use the handle to open the door of your vehicle.

3. Stand at the opening of your door with your elbows tucked into your stomach and your hands held close to your chest.

4. Jump out and away from the vehicle. As you exit, don't touch the door and the ground at the same time. Land with your feet together.

5. Calmly shuffle with your feet together. Keep your feet touching as you shuffle. The heel of one foot should still be touching the toe of the other when you start moving the other leg.

6. Keep shuffling until you are at least 10 metres (33 feet) or a bus-length away from the vehicle.

7. Call 911 for help.

(Information provided by BCHydro)

Follow up questions to ask workers:

1. Can you describe the procedure you would follow if you were involved in an incident and there was a broken powerline down & close by and you were trapped in the vehicle?

2. What is the height clearance of your truck when it’s loaded with logs, equipment, or materials and how do you ensure you won’t come in contact with overhanging powerlines?

 

For more information on this submitted alert: 

Email Tyson von den Steinen at

Tyson.VondenSteinen@canfor.com

 

File attachments
Safety_Alert-Canfor_Powerlines_Jan_9-2018.pdf

Series of mishaps occur at log yard trailer hoist, causing damage

Safety Alert Type: 
Log Hauling
Location: 
BC Interior Region
Date of Incident / Close Call: 
2018-01-02
Company Name: 
CANFOR
Details of Incident / Close Call: 

Incident Summaries

1) Jan 2nd – Trailer got stuck in hoist when it failed to stop after being lifted; fortunately the driver remained on scene and was cooperative with crews in getting the trailer down and the completing the investigation.

2) Jan 5th – Hoist pendant was activated by driver before the down contacts fused, which resulted in the cable rewinding backward back onto the spool and burning out the motor; unfortunately the driver left the scene and did not report the incident.

3) Jan 12th – Driver drove away from hoist with the hook still attached to trailer, which resulted in significant damage to the hoist (i.e., both main support beams were bent and the anchors were torn from concrete); unfortunately the driver left the scene and did not report the incident.

Potential Hazards - Not following proper safe work procedures, such as:

  • Checking for clearance before lifting trailer
  • Ensuring the trailer is completely unhooked before driving away
  • Not inspecting equipment before use and using it even though it might have been in disrepair
  • Failing to report damage to equipment before it is used again.

 

Learnings and Suggestions: 
  • Equipment will be removed from service until repairs are completed and certified by engineer
  • Reminder to ALWAYS report any damage to equipment or incidents that occurred so hazards can be removed before others are exposed
  • Drivers must ALWAYS confirm that the trailer is free of the hoist before driving away. Signage will be placed at site to remind operators to always check for hook clearance
  • Remote disconnects will be installed at safer location on hoists (i.e., control side of hoist)
  • Trailer hoist inspections will be continued to be completed daily, monthly, annually, and whenever modifications are made
  • Starter contacts on hoist to be replaced annually
  • Cameras will be installed for everyone’s safety and to record activity.

 

For more information on this submitted alert: 

Tyson von den Steinen RPF - Manager, Safety & Continuous Improvement

Forest Management Group Canadian Forest Products Ltd.

Email: Tyson.VondenSteinen@canfor.com

File attachments
Safety_Alert-Canfor-Trailer_Hoist_Jan_3-2018.pdf

Tethered machine creates a hazard for hand fallers

Safety Alert Type: 
Manual Tree Falling
Location: 
Washington State
Date of Incident / Close Call: 
2017-08-31
Company Name: 
Washington State Dept. of Labour & Industries
Details of Incident / Close Call: 

Two manual fallers were hired to fall trees that a tethered machine could not cut.

The fallers packed their gear to two alder trees that were to be hand felled. They assessed the situation and found it to be unsafe. The trees were brushed in and had been struck by trees felled by the tethered machine.

A large limb had broken off of one tree and was laying against the other standing tree. 

The fallers made the right choice and did not fall the trees due to the hazardous situation.

Learnings and Suggestions: 
  • When possible, mark out areas to be hand felled and allow the fallers to work first
  • Fall trees into the open and do not rub timber that has to be hand felled
  • If brush or timber are piled against standing timber, clean the area up for the hand fallers
  • When planning units to be felled with a tethered machine, communicate with hand fallers to ensure that they can do their work safely
  • If you see a hazardous situation, speak up! Walk away if the work can’t be done safely.

 

For more information on this submitted alert: 

Washington State Dept. of Labour & Industries. Link to web site and PDF of this alert: https://goo.gl/DdtsZr 

Multiple Alerts: Tether Line Incidents in Winch-Assist Harvesting

Safety Alert Type: 
Winch-Assist Harvesting
Location: 
Washington State
Date of Incident / Close Call: 
2018-01-23
Company Name: 
Washington State Dept. of Labour & Industries
Details of Incident / Close Call: 

The following alerts from Washington State relate to incidents with tether lines and cables in winch-assist harvesting operations. The information can be found on the web site for the Washington State Department of Labour & Industries. A link is provided at the bottom of this page.

The following links will direct you to 3 specific alerts. PDFs are available on these pages as well:

 

For more information on this submitted alert: 

Washington State Dept. of Labour & Industries web page:  https://goo.gl/eNmHbe

Log Falls Off Truck on Island Highway

Safety Alert Type: 
Log Hauling
Location: 
Mid-Vancouver Island
Date of Incident / Close Call: 
2018-01-10
Company Name: 
Island Timberlands
Details of Incident / Close Call: 

A small log (5” x 18’) was discovered on Highway 19, south of Nanaimo. There were no witnesses that saw it come off the log truck. The closest vehicle to the location was a multi bunk truck hauling similar logs.

Learnings and Suggestions: 
  • When hauling logs on industrial and public roads the logging truck driver has the responsibility to ensure that the load is secure. All drivers must check that their load is secure before leaving the landing. If they have concerns, the loader operator should adjust the load
  • All log truck drivers are required to stop and check their load for securement and any other issues before entering on to any public roadway
  • Use extra binders if you are not certain that your load is secure
  • Loader operators are to build crowned loads to ensure sufficient downward pressure is applied to the load from the binders
  • Loader operators should build loads as level as possible.

 

For more information on this submitted alert: 
File attachments
Safety_Alert-Island_Timberlands-Log_on_Hwy_19-Jan_10-2018.pdf
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