Richmond, B.C. — WorkSafeBC has announced that its 2019 high-risk strategy for forestry will include an additional focus on phase congestion, which can lead to unsafe conditions when harvesting activities overlap. Phase congestion is an industry-wide problem and has resulted in serious injuries and fatalities.
Forestry operators often have to carry out multiple harvesting phases within a single operating area — phase integration — with many contractors working at the same time. Without proper planning, these areas can become overcrowded or jammed, leading to phase congestion.
“Poor planning and scheduling, as well as inadequate communication among workers, employers and contractors, are often contributing factors in these incidents,” said Dan Strand, Director of Prevention Field Services with WorkSafeBC. “During inspections of forestry operations, officers will be ensuring that employers understand the real risks that can result from phase congestion.”
To help identify and assess those risks, officers have developed a simple questionnaire they will use during inspections. After testing this tool and gathering input from workers and supervisors, WorkSafeBC will make it directly available to employers.
Strand explained that when WorkSafeBC developed its 2018-20 high-risk strategy, it recognized that flexibility would be needed to add other focus areas as required.
Released last year, the Forestry High Risk Strategy (FHRS) targets the highest-risk activities in harvesting: manual tree falling, log transportation, cable-yarding operations, mechanized harvesting including tethered-equipment operations, and silviculture. The FHRS is designed to reduce the serious-injury rate through inspections that may include consultation with workers and employers, as well as education.
WorkSafeBC’s high-risk strategies identify and target industries and employers with a high risk of serious workplace injury and a significant contribution to the serious-injury rate. High-risk strategies include four industry sectors: construction, forestry, health care and manufacturing.