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Logging Outreach in West Virginia

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the West Virginia logging industry had a high number of workplace fatalities and injuries. In addition to the human costs, this resulted in very high workers compensation rates for the industry.

OSHA's Area Office in Charleston, West Virginia is working on several fronts to address this problem. OSHA worked with a number of other organizations to develop a program called the Logging Safety Initiative (LSI) to improve safety at logging sites. OSHA has also helped promote safety for logging trucks by co-sponsoring an event called Truck Safety Day.

Logging Safety Initiative

The Logging Safety Initiative (LSI) grew out of cooperative efforts of OSHA's Charleston Area Office, the West Virginia Forestry Association, West Virginia Division of Forestry, and West Virginia Workers Compensation Division. In 1999, these organizations formed a committee to coordinate and target their efforts. The committee developed the LSI, which has the goal of reducing the frequency and severity of logging-related accidents.

Some of the major features of the LSI include:

  • Increased training by OSHA in the applicable OSHA standards.
  • Grant money and incentives from the Workers Compensation Division to participating companies.
  • Safety inspections by private consultants hired by the West Virginia Forestry Association.

OSHA agreed to provide training to loggers attending logging certification classes sponsored by the Division of Forestry. OSHA also agreed to increase scheduled inspections at logging sites.

Logging companies belonging to the Forestry Association that send their employees to a training event called the "Game of Logging" are given discounts on workers compensation rates. The Game of Logging is a four-day training session on chainsaw safety and tree felling technique. The trainee with the highest score at the end of each training day gets a prize.

Using grant money from the West Virginia Workers Compensation Division, the Forestry Association hires a private consulting company to conduct three unannounced inspections per year of member companies. These inspections determine whether the companies are complying with logging standards and implementing best practices. If a company receives a poor score on the inspection, it is removed from the LSI program.

The LSI program is getting results. From 2000 to 2002, the number of workers compensation claims for participating companies decreased by 28 percent and the actual cost per claim for the companies decreased by 21 percent. The average cost per claim for participating companies is $14,000, while other facilities average $26,000 per claim. Participating companies also get four days of training from the Division of Forestry and OSHA through the Game of Logging.

Truck Safety Day

In addition to working to improve safety and logging sites, OSHA has been involved in efforts to promote safety for logging trucks. A number of government agencies and others organizations sponsored a Truck Safety Day in April 2003 at the Georgia-Pacific oriented strand board (OSB) plant in Mount Hope, West Virginia. This facility is an OSHA Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) site. The sponsors included: the Georgia-Pacific OSB plant; West Virginia Forestry Association; Motor Carrier Enforcement Section of the West Virginia Public Service Commission; West Virginia Division of Forestry; West Virginia Workers' Compensation Division; and OSHA's Charleston Area Office.

The purpose of the Truck Safety Day was to offer voluntary truck inspections to help drivers meet U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) requirements. Owners and drivers were provided a convenient way to get a quick and thorough inspection by qualified inspectors immediately after making a scheduled load delivery to the OSB plant. There was no fee charged for the vehicle inspections. Georgia-Pacific OSB provided mechanics at no cost and fixed typical problems areas, such as leaking or frayed airlines, brakes out of adjustment, and burned out light bulbs and buzzers. Drivers were also advised on any items that might need inspection and repair in the future.

OSHA's interest in truck safety aligns with the interests of DOT and the LSI Safety Committee in that logging trucks have to be in compliance with OSHA's logging standards and seat belt requirements for off-road purposes. OSHA's Compliance Assistance Specialist distributed pamphlets on seatbelt usage during the inspections. Future events are in the works to build on the success of the first Truck Safety Day.

For more information, please contact Richard Jeffrey, Compliance Assistance Specialist in OSHA's Area Office in Charleston, West Virginia.

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