Two forestry safety leaders receive special awards from the BC Forest Safety Council

Nanaimo, B.C. October 8, 2013 – In recognition of their outstanding contributions to furthering safety, two BC forestry leaders received awards from the BC Forest Safety Council (BCFSC) this past weekend.

More than 400 forestry and industry-related conference attendees watched as Reynold Hert, Chair & CEO, BCFSC presented the annual safety awards to Chris Akehurst and Don Banasky at the annual Vancouver Island Safety Conference held here on October 5, 2013.

Chris Akehurst received the Cary White Lifetime Achievement Award. The award is presented to an individual who, through a long career in the forest industry, has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to improving safety awareness, expanding safety knowledge, developing safety skills at ground level and building a lasting culture of safety among BC’s forest workers. This individual is known for being a ‘teacher’ of safety, a trainer, an instructor, a mentor … someone who goes the extra mile to help others reach their safety goals with a helping hand, proven experience and knowledge.

Chris is a stalwart of tree planting in British Columbia, having planted his first tree in 1975, and helped turn the industry into what it is today. Since taking ownership of A&G Reforestation in 1984, Chris has been a strong advocate for high employment standards and industry-best practices. He has played a lead role in developing safety and training initiatives for the BC Forest Industry through his ongoing work with the Western Silviculture Contractors Association and the development of the Safe Silviculture Program.

Some of the work Chris has supported has created the Resource Road Driving, ATV, Supervisor and Powersaw training courses; and resources to reduce MSI injuries and improve emergency response in remote locations.

In receiving his award, Chris paid tribute to the people who had inspired him. As much as things have changed, he encouraged everyone to keep the pressure on to “get to zero” by working together to promote safety in the industry.

Don Banasky received the Forest Safety MVP of the Year award. This award recognizes an individual or group that has made a notable contribution to forest industry safety within their operation or company in 2013.

Don has had a long commitment to safety. It has not only been at the top of his list with the companies he has worked for, but he has volunteered his services to help others improve their safety programs.

In 1994, Don joined TimberWest Forest Corp. and worked as a Chokerman, Rigging Slinger, Hooktender, and a mechanical processor operator. In 2002, along with Bryan Gregson he launched FallTech Logging Ltd., which provided mechanical falling and bunching services of a million cubic meters a year. At this time he also began D. Banasky Logging Consultants Ltd., which focused on project management, safety, and systems development, team building and training.

FallTech Logging Ltd. was purchased by The Gregson Group and Don continues to provide consulting and management service to both companies. Don acts as general foreman for Copcan Contracting Ltd., and is involved in many capacities including safety implementation.

He serves as a Vice President of the Truck Loggers Association (TLA) and sits on numerous committees including the Steep Slope Advisory Committee, Incident investigation Advisory Committee, Safety Training and Industrial Relations Committee, and various other safety committees in the hopes to make a difference in the Forest Industry in BC and abroad. In 2013 Don has been part of the working team overhauling SAFE Certification into an updated, industry owned certification system to reduce fatalities and serious injuries in the BC Forest Industry.

As a result of Don’s safety and leadership experience Don has been asked in 2013 to visit and speak to groups in the United Kingdom and New Zealand on integrating safety, quality and production in forestry contracting operations.

In accepting the award, Don thanked Copcan for allowing him to participate in industry safety initiatives that “keep our workers, friends and families safe.” He reminded everyone that they just had to look around the room to see all the personal connections and why safety is so important. He encouraged and challenged everyone to get back to the basics – go beyond the stereotypes of rough tough forestry folk that don’t talk -- and really communicate. “Acknowledge people as individuals -- speak up for safety and speak up for co-workers.”

About BCFSC:
The British Columbia Forest Safety Council was created in September 2004 as a not-for-profit society dedicated to promoting forest safety in the forest industry. The organization provides training, information, guidance, safety advisor advocacy, safety reviews and audits to industry. The focus is on preventing fatalities and injuries by helping all industry participants implement best practice safety performance in every forest harvesting job. This covers silviculture activities and timber falling, to machine operators, log truck drivers, heli-logging operations, water haulers and more. Unsafe is Unacceptable.


taken by Precision Photography:


Chris Akehurst (left) receives the Cary White Memorial Lifetime Achievement Award from BC Forest Safety Council’s Chair & CEO, Reynold Hert (right).


The BC Forest Safety Council’s Chair and CEO, Reynold Hert (left) presents Don Banasky (right) with the Forest Safety MVP award at the Vancouver Island Safety Conference.



Left to right: Chair & CEO of the BC Forest Safety Council, Reynold Hert; Assistant Deputy Minister, Forests, Lands and Natural Resources, Tom Jensen; Chris Akehurst recipient of the Cary White Memorial Lifetime Achievement Award; Don Banasky, Forest Safety MVP of the Year award winner; and Ian Munroe, Vice-President Employer, Industry, and Worker Services, WorkSafeBC at the 2013 Vancouver Island Safety Conference in Nanaimo.

For more information:
Pam Agnew, BC Forest Safety Council
250-824-5186 or 1-877-741-1060

October 8, 2013
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