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Safe Returns: Logging equipment safety

Feb. 10, 2017 - As the landscape of logging operations changes in British Columbia – with an increase in the availability of new harvesting equipment from overseas manufacturers – employers, suppliers, manufacturers, distributors and importers must understand the requirements in the Workers Compensation Act and the Occupation Health and Safety Regulation before using the equipment in B.C.


February 10, 2017
By John Ligtenberg

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Here is a summary of some the information contained in relevant sections of the regulation; however, employers and manufacturers must review all relevant parts of the regulation to ensure the safety of their workers. The sections most directly applicable to logging equipment operations are located in parts 15, 16 and 26 of the regulation.

Suppliers include suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, and importers of mobile logging equipment. Suppliers must ensure any equipment, machine, device or biological, chemical or physical agent supplied is safe when used in accordance with directions provided by the supplier. In addition, suppliers must ensure biological, chemical and physical agents are correctly labelled and that leased equipment is maintained.

Operators of mobile equipment must be protected against falling, flying or intruding objects or material by suitable cabs, screens, grills, shields, deflectors, guards or structures. To protect operators, mobile equipment used in B.C. must be equipped with guards that meet the requirements of the regulation and applicable standards. Guards include: structures that protect operators from being struck by logs and other objects and ROPS – rollover protective structures.

The following types of equipment weighing 700 kilograms (1,500 pounds) are examples of those which require ROPS: crawler tractors, loaders and skidders, wheel tractors, dozers, motor graders, pipe layers or side boom tractors. WorkSafeBC may require ROPS to be installed on any mobile equipment if the design of the equipment or circumstances of use require.

If a piece of equipment has only one cab door, the equipment will require an emergency escape exit that meets the requirements of the regulation of section 16.17 (1)(a) to (f) if it was manufactured after Jan. 1, 2000. If it was manufactured prior to that date, it must have an alternate means of escape in case the primary exit becomes blocked.

Operating mobile logging equipment on steep slopes carries a degree of risk that tends to increase as the slope becomes steeper. While some mobile logging equipment may be manufactured specifically for steep-slope operations and suitable for such use, all equipment has productivity and safety limitations.

Best practices call for thorough risk assessments and the development of written safe work procedures for all worksites, whether steep-slope logging is involved or not.

Any equipment designed for a specific function in a forestry operation or adapted for use in a forestry operation must be capable of performing safely the functions for which it is being used. Logging equipment must not be operated in a particular location or manner if its stability cannot be assured during that operation.

Employers must ensure that operators are adequately trained in the use of mobile logging equipment before they start work. Operators must demonstrate to a qualified supervisor that they can operate the equipment competently. In addition, young workers must receive health and safety orientation and training specific to that young or new worker’s workplace.

Planning a forestry operation includes considering what types of mobile equipment will be necessary and how they will be used. The site layout slopes, and other environmental conditions are factors that will determine whether or not a piece of equipment will be appropriate for work.

All activities must be planned and conducted in a manner consistent with safe work practices and employer must ensure that regular inspections are made of all workplaces.

You can access the standards that apply to mobile equipment used in logging operations at www.worksafebc.com by searching for “WCB standards.”


John Ligtenberg is an occupational safety officer with WorkSafeBC.