The forestry sector is among the top ten manufacturing employers in 48 US. Logging has also been among the top three most dangerous occupations for decade. Logging involves exposures to a wide variety of hazards, including: work in close proximity to heavy equipment and trucks; tree falls, log movements and falling objects; ergonomic issues; hand-arm and whole-body vibration; noise, and; environmental factors. The fatality rate for loggers is 133 deaths per 100,000 workers, the highest rate in 2015 and substantially greater than the overall US rate of 3.4 per 100,000. Washington and Oregon represent about 20% of total US logging employment.Logging is characterized by small businesses, comprising only 0.5% of all US employment, but accounts for 2% of all workplace fatalities. Smaller logging contractors have mortality risks ten times higher than larger firms. Injuries are also very common in logging. The rate of workers’ compensation claims in Oregon is 4.5-7.0 per 100 logging workers, much higher than the state average of 1.2-1.
Learn more in this US Bureau of Labor Statistics' Beyond the Numbers article on logging.
In coming years the logging sector will emerge from the recession with a workforce substantially reduced in numbers and skills. Increased mechanization of logging is changing the nature of the hazards and is generally safety, yet these new technologies introduce new hazards to address. There is a need to build this valuable worforce’s skills and knowledge to improve their safety. Our forestry and logging research priorities are developed on participation with stakeholders.
- Forest Worker Safety Review Newsletter
- Vibration and Noise Exposure in Forestry Workers
- Synthetic Rope For Logging Rigging is replacing wire rope. It is as strong as steel wire rope, it is the same diameter, and it weighs about 90% less. In research trials it has demonstrated improvements to workload, strain, and fatigue.
Other PNW Projects
Protecting the Logging Workforce: Development of Innovative Logging Techniques for a Safety Working Environment. This three year Oregon State University study will develop guidelines for innovative logging systems using cable-assisted falling machines, prebunching of turns, and enhanced visibility for grapple logging that can eliminate or reduce the need for high risk manual activities.
Recommended Safety Resources
Programs & Information Clearinghouses
- Logging Resources | Work Safe BC
- Logging Safety Resources | National Timber and Harvesting Safety Foundation
- Logging Safety Research | NIOSH
- Logging E-tool | Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA)
- Logging Safety Recognition, Control, and Standards |Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA)
Also consider contacting local associations; Membership-based programs offer excellent training and insurance information and support.
Additional Relevant Topics
Comprehensive Spanish Materials
- Oregon safety and health program for forest activities - Sample program (Spanish and English)
- Forest activities hazard training cards and glossary of terms (Spanish and English)
Also see below for additional Spanish language materials.
Chain Shot in Mechanized Logging
- Hazard of chain shot in logging | Oregon OSHA
- Protect yourself from pesticides | Oregon OSHA (Spanish and English)
- National Pesticide Information Center
- Current Worker Protection Standard (WPS) | U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Heat Related Illness
- Outdoor Heat Exposure | WA Dept. of Labor & Industries
- OSHA's Campaign to Prevent Heat Illness in Outdoor Workers (multiple languages)
- Heat Illness Prevention | PNASH Center (Spanish and English)
- Aches, Pains, and Strains | PNASH Center article, 2009
- Noise and Hearing Loss Prevention - See the noise meter! | NIOSH/CDC
- Hearing Loss - Risks and Prevention | PNASH Center article, 2008
- Crowding the Rigging | Oregon OSHA
- Reducing Workloads for Older Loggers in Physcially Demanding Logging Tasks with Synthetic Rope | PNASH Center pilot project
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- Personal Protective Equipment for Logging | Washington Department of Labor & Industries
Danger Tree Identification
- Field Guide for Danger Tree Identification and Response | U.S. Forest Service
- Guidelines for Selecting Reserve Trees | Washington Department of Labor & Industries
- General Safety, Health and Labor | PNASH Center links