Improved log truck safety performance
By Dustin Meierhofer
March 11, 2016 - The B.C. forest industry relies on approximately 2,800 log truck drivers to haul timber from forests to wood processing and manufacturing facilities, log dumps, harbour terminals in B.C., and to other parts of Canada and North America.
By Dustin Meierhofer
In 2013, industry took a long hard look at incident statistics and costs related to log hauling safety. The review was driven chiefly by a cluster of highly publicised log truck rollovers in the late summer and fall of 2013. In one of these incidents a 65-year-old motorcyclist was killed on the Sea-to-Sky Highway just outside of Whistler.
Within weeks, industry had agreed to assemble an advisory group to look at ways to improve log hauling safety within the province. As a result, the Trucking Advisory Group (TAG) was formed in late 2013 and includes representatives from B.C.’s major forest licensees, forest industry contractor associations, the Log Truck Technical Advisory Committee, log hauling contractors and safety professionals.
In January 2014, TAG met to set out its objectives, determine actions required to achieve them, and discuss options to measure and report on their effectiveness. Knowing that many truckers and licensees had been doing what they have been doing for 10, 20 or 30 years, breaking through old processes and habits was going to be critical to success. Everyone had to look at the challenges with new eyes – rather than “we’ve always done it this way.”
It was recognized that the challenges were industry-wide and that credible industry leaders would need to champion change. Issues such as log truck rollovers, weight management, speed management, load securement, accurate cycle times, and general driver safety are all areas of focus. It was also recognized that these efforts need to support drivers, log loadermen and supervisors more effectively by providing them with the information, resources and tools they require to make the best safety choices for every load, route, curve and road condition. TAG is also looking at new ways of supporting improved safety outcomes through increased awareness. To this end, more than 2,500 log truck drivers, supervisors, licensee representatives, and log loadermen attended workshops and seminars during 2014 and 2015.
Additional focus areas for TAG include driver health and wellness, fatigue, log truck cab guards, resource road radio channels, and emerging safety issues.
As a result of this industry call to action, the B.C. forest transportation sector has seen a significant reduction (more than 50 per cent) in rollovers on public roads from 2013 to 2015. TAG is quick to point out that this improvement has been achieved through a committed, industry-wide response – from safety groups to licensees, contractors, subcontractors and individual owner operators, the log truck drivers themselves.
While the log hauling sector has a better than average safety performance when compared to other areas of commercial trucking, a lot more work is needed to further reduce incidents. The prevailing wisdom continues to be that every incident is preventable. That is the objective of the B.C. forestry industry – incident-free log hauling where every load and log truck driver arrives safely at his/her destination. The industry can improve its safety performance, and bottom line by eliminating worker harm, compromised supply chains, damaged assets and infrastructure, increased operating costs, and eroded public confidence.
Industry has further to travel, but it is firmly on track and TAG is committed to continuing its important work in improving log hauling safety performance for the benefit of the public, all industry members, and workers.
Dustin Meierhofer is the director of transportation and northern safety for the BC Forest Safety Council.