By Niels de Hoop
Although injuries around log trucks still dominate, the logging accidents in Louisiana in 2019 were more of a variety than usual.
Every year, the logging companies participating in the Louisiana Master Logger program (and thereby, the Alliance between OSHA and the Louisiana Logging Council) are asked to turn in their accident reports. This report is a summary of those accidents. Owners of 520 companies were contacted to submit their accident reports for the year 2019.
Ninety-two percent of the companies reported that they had no accidents during 2019, which is in line with the upward trend compared to previous years.
However, one of the reported highway accidents was fatal. There were no witnesses, so little is understood about this particular accident, but it appears that the driver lost control of the truck and ran off the road.
In another truck accident, the truck dropped off a road shoulder and rolled. While not fatal, the driver’s injury could easily bother him the rest of his life.
Highway accidents aren’t limited to log trucks. Loggers clock many miles commuting to work, and dealing with many other drivers who may be late for work and driving recklessly. Defensive driving is always important. We may not be able to compensate for the mistakes of all the other drivers on the road, but we can compensate for some of them if we anticipate them.
Also, there are many danger points while unloading at the log yards and mill yards. Ensure that everyone understands all the rules, including the loader operators, who may need occasional refreshers.
For equipment operators, the most common time to get hurt is when out of the cab — usually slips while doing maintenance and hand/finger injuries involving hand tools.
It is very important to train new hires, even if they are experienced on other logging jobs. New workers need to develop good safety habits quickly and be monitored frequently to ensure they maintain those habits. If they don’t, discipline may be necessary to protect them and all the workers from injury.
For the most part, the accidents reported this year were classical to the logging industry. Highway accidents are a constant danger. Beyond that, the most dangerous time for equipment operators and truck drivers is when they are outside the cab — performing maintenance, doing repairs, mounting and dismounting, trimming loads, binding loads and unbinding/unloading at the mill.
C.F. “Niels” de Hoop is an Associate Professor at the Louisiana Forest Products Development Center, School of Renewable Natural Resources, Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service, LSU AgCenter. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 225-578-4242. His continuing research on logging accidents is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, McIntire-Stennis program.