Emergency evacuation from remote work site proves challenging

Safety Alert Type: 
Booming and Towing
East Kootenay Region
Date of Incident / Close Call: 
Company Name: 
Details of Incident / Close Call: 

Cruising Contractor was attempting to measure the diameter of a tree on the edge of a cliff. The ground gave way under his feet and he fell 5 metres.

Block access was a 6 kilometre ATV ride from the Forest Service Road. Communication was via satellite phone.

The worker was conscious but immobile and had to be evacuated from the block using a helicopter. SAR arrived on site within one hour.

It took nine people two hours to carry the worker out in basket stretcher, 750 metres over steep rough terrain.

It took six and a half hours to get the worker to hospital from the time 9-1-1 was called.Worker was assessed at the hospital with severe bruising and whiplash.

Learnings and Suggestions: 

Potential Hazards

  • The workers had discussed dropping the plot prior to starting but decided to continue. The workers did not appropriately assess the risk.
  • Unstable terrain surrounding cliffs.
  • The worker’s hard hat stayed on his head for the fall, otherwise it would have resulted in a head injury as he hit his head hard.
  • A fall from heights presents risk of spinal injury, head injury and internal bleeding.
  • Working in remote areas increases time to get injured worker to medical care, even helicopter evacuations take several hours.

Preventative Actions

  • Review procedures for assessing hazards and risk to ensure workers know when it is unsafe and to drop the plot / refuse unsafe work.
  • Ensure maps provided to ALL contractors identify hazards (slopes, stand condition) and potential helipads (swamps, trails) prior to starting the block.
  • Identify communication, evacuation routes and review plan to evacuate an injured worker at preworks/tailgate safety meetings for ALL blocks.
  • Ensure that hard hats are secure on head, use chin strap or helmet style of hard hat if necessary.
  • Test communication at every block. Ensure batteries are fully charged and system is reliable.
  • Minimizing the “fact gathering time” for 9-1-1 and SAR crews to determine their hazards and the resources needed. This will reduce time to get worker to medical aid.


For more information on this submitted alert: 

Kori Vernier RPF, Safety and Silviculture Coordinator, Woodlands - Canadian Forest Products Ltd. kori.vernier@canfor.com


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