Excerpt from the OH&S Canada magazine
British Columbia’s forest industry is looking to bring faller safety up a notch with the release of a new program. Last December, officials for the British Columbia Forest Safety Council (BCFSC) announced plans to pilot a re-evaluation system to assess faller skills. The expectation is that the pilot will be completed this year and the re-evaluation program will be fully operational and mandatory starting in 2009.
Faller safety took centre stage in 2005 when seven fallers died as a result of work-related accidents. The coroner’s inquest into the November, 2005 death of veteran faller Ted Gramlich further highlighted the need for ongoing training and supervision to maintain safe work practices, the BCFSC notes. “For two years, no certified fallers in B. C. have died while working in the woods, and this may be the most important legacy of the certification program and fallers like Ted Gramlich,” says Bill Bolton, senior advisor for BCFSC’s Forest Worker Development program.
The council has also launched a new annual renewal fee system, which took effect in January, for British Columbia’s 3,600 certified fallers. “The approach to faller certification renewals is similar to that for drivers’ licences which require renewal fees while qualifying individuals for certain driving situations,” Bolton says. The council is taking it one step further, with the introduction of the onsite re-evaluation of certified fallers, he says.
The re-evaluation will take place at least once every three years and will assure the faller’s skills continue to meet the existing B. C. Faller Training Standard. Fallers will also be able to increase the certification level to work on steeper slopes and larger-diameter trees. “The bottom line is we want all our workers to be safe in the woods,” says Mike McKibbin, executive director of the Western Fallers Association. “Faller certification helps us ensure workers have the skills and knowledge to do the job safely and successful re-evaluation will provide fallers with an opportunity to demonstrate their abilities and professionalism,” McKibbin says.
As always, it takes a death or deaths in a sector specific industry for legislation to change. Here we find that fallers have a one-time training setup with no re-certification. We have re-certification for Forklift, Overhead Cranes, Fall Protection, Elevating Work Platform, WHMIS, TDG, and even the propane industry deems that re-certification is necessary. I guess the lumber industry didn’t see the need for periodic re-certification of their people. What would be the case for a worker, off the job, say, in the office, and re-entering the forest workforce. It would be safe to say that the worker(s) in question would be rusty to say the least. The cutting equipment may be updated as well as possible updates to current legislation.
Any worker in almost any field needs to be re-certified and their skills updated. Look at the vehicle mechanic. He/she is bound to review new automobile technologies as well as tool changes. Even the people in the H&S fields need to be updated with current changes to legislation.
In closing, I was certainly shocked at the time needed to incorporate the re-certification needs in the forestry sector in British Columbia. I am unaware of the standards in the same sector for the province of Ontario and it is my wish that a MOL Forestry Inspector read this blog and comment on the standards here in Ontario and I promise to forward those remarks as soon as they come in.
Remember — In Canada, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”
HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs including ‘Chainsaw Safety Awareness’. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259. We can also be reached at
‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.
Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Foundation Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.