BC Forest Safety Council

BC Forest Safety Council

January 16, 2008 11:00 ET

BC Forest Safety Council Introduces Three New Initiatives in 2008

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Jan. 16, 2008) - The BC Forest Safety Council is launching three new initiatives in 2008 to enhance the safety and health of workers. As detailed in the Council's 2008 Work Plan, along with a continued focus on existing programs, the forestry health and safety association will also be working on addressing forest worker wellness, improving incident reporting and investigation and broadening the role of the wood products manufacturing sector in the Council's structure and programs.

"The annual Truck Loggers Association Conference provides the Council with a great opportunity to discuss these and other Council programs with the men and women who are actually on the ground dealing with safety issues on a daily basis," says Tanner Elton, CEO of the Council.

This year the Council will be forming a working group to explore ways to improve recognition, response and management of a variety of worker health issues. These issues include substance use, fatigue, diet and general lifestyle. The focus on worker wellness stems from the Forest Safety Task Force recommendation that health and wellness programs be made available throughout the sector.

With the goal of educating the industry on causes of incidents and safety strategies, the Council will also focus on developing and improving the investigation, reporting and correcting of unsafe situations by forestry companies. This is an area of current concern that has been flagged by the Council's SAFE Companies Program. Work will begin this year to improve the frequency and quality of incident reporting and create ways to enhance sharing of lessons learned from these incidents. The Council will also consider how to help small firms with limited investigative capacity to fully review and investigate all serious incidents that occur.

"Incident investigation should not be dependent on whether you come from a large, medium or small firm," says Elton.

The Council also plans to assess the potential of becoming the forest safety association for both the woodlands and wood manufacturing sectors. While the Council provides safety information, safety alerts, bulletins and statistics for the entire industry, its current training and certification programs focus on woodlands operations. This initiative will look at the potential advantages and disadvantages of broadening the involvement of the wood manufacturing sector and providing it with access to the Council's SAFE Companies program.

The Council spent 2007 focusing on building a province-wide safety infrastructure and developing substantial safety programs. Through the course of the year, the sector's first fully certified occupation, manual tree falling, was established and almost 3,000 forestry operations registered in the SAFE Companies Certification program.

Despite economic difficulties faced by the sector in 2007, the industry is beginning to see improved safety results. Between 2005 and 2006, total claims in the sector decreased 21 per cent, from 1,193 to 936. In addition, since December 2005, no certified fallers have died while on the job in BC.

"We are proud of the industry's commitment to improving safety in the sector in spite of tough economic challenges," says Elton. "While we are moving in the right direction, we still have a long way to go. By maintaining our focus and building on our successes, the industry will make the safety of workers and worksites a priority and will be one step closer to becoming a dynamic, diverse and safe forest industry in the future."

To find out more information about the BC Forest Safety Council and its programs or plans for 2008, visit its web site at www.bcforestsafe.org.

The BC Forest Safety Council is a not-for-profit society dedicated to promoting forest health and safety. It was founded and is supported by all major forestry organizations in BC and works with forestry employers, workers, contractors and the provincial government and agencies to implement changes necessary to eliminate fatalities and serious injuries in the forest sector.

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