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Hazard Alert: Avalanche warning issued for BC back country (including Vancouver Island)

Safety Alert Type: 
Ground Conditions
Location: 
British Columbia mountain ranges
Date of Incident / Close Call: 
2019-03-18
Company Name: 
BC Forest Safety Council
Details of Incident / Close Call: 

Avalanche Canada has issued a Special Public Avalanche Warning, in effect immediately. The warning is widespread and applies to all the forecast regions in western Canada. For a detailed view of the regions involved click here for map (also posted on page 3 of attached pdf).

Due to the major warming trend this week and the persistent weak layers in the snowpack, people are cautioned to select Simple Terrain. Simple Terrain implies lower angled slopes generally under 30 degrees where multiple options exist to eliminate your exposure to avalanche terrain.

In forested areas, keep an eye up for tree bombs as vegetation will continue to shed snow from their limbs over the next few days. Those heading to the mountains for work or recreation should also be aware that many popular summer trails are exposed to avalanche terrain. Plan ahead and research your route to make sure you are avoiding these areas.

There is a Special Public Avalanche Warning (SPAW) on Vancouver Island due to the sustained warming trend taking place for the next several days on the coast.

Avalanche Problems:

• Cornice Fall - Above mountain top freezing levels will further weaken cornices that developed over the past week from extreme winds and new snow. Be very cautious in terms of your route selection and do not travel below slopes with overhead exposure from cornices.

• Wet Slab - Recent snowfall and wind events from this past week may provide appropriate bed surfaces for initiating avalanches due to major heating trend over the next few days. Slopes steeper than 30 degrees that received rainfall or wet snow will be further aggravated by rising warm temperatures.

• Loose Wet - The increase in temperature will add increased stress to the upper snowpack. Expect isothermal type conditions below treeline as the upper snow pack has undergone a major temperature shift from cold to warm and snowfall to rainfall. Slopes steeper than 30 degrees are now exposed to a major warming trend over the next few days and will become very likely areas to trigger avalanches.

• Deep Persistent Slab - Two persistent weak layers (PWL’s) down 40-60cm and 60-80cm (depending on aspect and elevation) will become likely to trigger on unsupported terrain steeper than 30 degrees. The upper snowpack will begin a sustained melting process for the next few days which will bring additional load and stress to these PWL’s, further increasing the likelihood of triggering.

• Persistent Slab - There are several reactive persistent weak layers in the upper 60cm of the Vancouver Island snowpack. These issues will become increasingly more hazardous with forecasted wind loading (Thursday), rain loading (Friday) and the general warming air temperatures this weekend. Be extremely vigilant as these layers remain a main concern despite no new reports of human triggered avalanches. As temperatures rise, expect the likelihood of triggering to increase for these layers.

Learnings and Suggestions: 

Recommended Preventative Actions: Avalanche Canada warns all backcountry users to keep careful track of their regional avalanche forecasts at www.avalanche.ca. Everyone in a backcountry party needs the essential rescue gear - transceiver, probe and shovel - and the knowledge to use it.

Avalanche risk assessment and safety plan: Forestry operations should keep in mind Occupational Health and Safety Regulation 4.1.1(2), which states: if a person working at a workplace may be exposed to a risk associated with an avalanche, the employer must ensure that no work is carried out at the workplace until

(a) a written avalanche risk assessment is completed, and

(b) if the avalanche risk assessment indicates that a person working at the workplace will be exposed to a risk associated with an avalanche, a written avalanche safety plan is developed and implemented.

(3) The avalanche risk assessment must be conducted by a qualified person.

 

For more information on this submitted alert: 

Avalanche Canada (250) 837-2141 or by email: info@avalanche.ca

File attachments
Hazard_Alert_Avalanche_Warning-Rising_Temps-3-18-2019.pdf

Trailer reach failure leads to load of logs spilling from tipped trailer

Safety Alert Type: 
Log Hauling
Location: 
British Columbia
Date of Incident / Close Call: 
2019-03-04
Company Name: 
CANFOR
Details of Incident / Close Call: 

The log truck driver was not familiar with the ANSER Trailer Reach operation, and overextended reach. The air lock system pin on the trailer did not lock into the telescoping reach and the only thing holding the telescoping reach together was the Reach Stops. However, the Reach Stops were not of adequate strength and the trailer broke free, flopped onto its side, spreading logs onto the pavement and ditch. This was a single vehicle incident with no injuries.

Potential Hazards:

  • Loss of control of vehicle
  • Trailer or load could cause a multi-vehicle accident
  • Potential for injury or fatalities

 

Learnings and Suggestions: 
  • Reach Stops should be of adequate strength to prevent trailer separation
  • Telescoping reaches should be inspected at every Trip Inspection and maintained as per the manufacturers’ specifications
  • In some cases, a secondary set of safety chains may be required (as pictured in the attached pdf)
  • Drivers should be trained on the correct operation of trailer reaches.

 

For more information on this submitted alert: 
File attachments
Safety_Alert_Canfor-Trailer_Reach_Failure_Mar-4-2019.pdf

Serious Incidents: Driving and Radio Use

Safety Alert Type: 
Vehicles
Location: 
British Columbia
Date of Incident / Close Call: 
2019-03-01
Company Name: 
CANFOR
Details of Incident / Close Call: 

Incident Summaries

Jan 30: On the North road in Vanderhoof, a logging truck was passing a grader when a lowbed came around a corner. Both vehicles tried to brake but slid on ice and hit the ditch sustaining property damage.

Jan 30: A truck heading up on the North road met a truck coming around the corner, which was on the wrong side of the road. The vehicles almost collided.

Feb 14: Another near miss on the North road at the 20km mark. A logging truck heading down was in the middle of the road forcing a pickup heading up to the far edge of road, narrowly missing the other truck.

There have been several clipped mirrors and property damage with vehicles passing by each other too fast.

Near Prince George, a driver slid on icy roads and got stuck in a snow bank on railway tracks. Luckily help arrived in a timely manner and no incident occurred.

Potential Hazards:

  • Vehicles travelling on wrong side of road
  • Slippery road conditions
  • Losing control when braking on icy roads
  • Driving surface of road is narrower in winter with snow banks
  • Inexperienced drivers not recognizing risk
  • Not using radio to communicate location
  • Other users of resource roads not driving responsibly
  • Brushed in roads reducing sight lines
  • Missing km signs
  • Animals on road.

 

Learnings and Suggestions: 
  • Call km’s and let drivers know where other vehicles are on the roads
  • Recognize slippery conditions and slow down
  • Pull over early - Don’t rush pull outs
  • Stay to the right side of the road
  • Expect the unexpected and drive with enough time to safely react
  • Up traffic should clear for down traffic
  • Recognize driving surface of roads might be reduced in winter with snow banks
  • Follow-up with Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure regarding road hazards on public road systems.

 

For more information on this submitted alert: 

Kori Vernier at Kori.Vernier@canfor.com

 

File attachments
Safety_Alert_Canfor-Driving_Radio_Use_03-1-2019.pdf

Loaded log truck approaches as worker unloads snow sled on mainline

Safety Alert Type: 
Vehicles
Location: 
British Columbia
Date of Incident / Close Call: 
2019-02-13
Company Name: 
CANFOR
Details of Incident / Close Call: 

A layout crew parked in a small pullout along the mainline to unload their snow sleds. They called on the radio to let road traffic know they would be unloading sleds (at 88km) and to slow down and watch for them.

They had to back onto road to line up a straight approach to get over the large snowbank. As they were reversing into the road, a loaded logging truck came at full speed around the corner. Worker had large gloves on due to the extreme cold and couldn’t switch the sled out of reverse.

With only a few seconds to think, the worker jumped off the sled and out of the trucks path. No impact occurred – it was a very serious near miss.

Potential Hazards:

  • Not having large enough pullouts or safe places to unload sled without being on road
  • Road traffic unaware of workers on road • Ineffective communication with other road users
  • With extreme cold weather, workers might try to reduce time spent sledding and push travelling further up plowed road to unload sleds

 

Learnings and Suggestions: 
  • Avoid unloading sled on active mainlines unless adequate sight lines or large enough pullouts
  • Coordinate plans with road maintenance to plow out additional pullouts and access roads to allow save place to unload sleds and turn around
  • Review block access prior to pre-work to ensure time to coordinate plowing out roads
  • Field staff should have a contingency plan in the event roads/pullouts have not been plowed and access is unsafe
  • Set-up “workers in area” sign to notify drivers of potential field crews on the roads
  • Dig out snow bank on an angle to the road so you don’t have to drive sled onto road to line up straight approach over bank
  • Use truck radio to communicate with drivers and not handheld.

 

For more information on this submitted alert: 

Kori Vernier at kori.vernier@canfor.com

 

File attachments
Safety_Alert_Canfor-Unloading_Snowmobiles_Along_Mainline_02-13-2019.pdf

Over-extending boom on steep slope, snowy ground leads to buncher rollover

Safety Alert Type: 
Mechanized Harvesting
Location: 
British Columbia
Date of Incident / Close Call: 
2019-02-01
Company Name: 
CANFOR
Details of Incident / Close Call: 

An experienced buncher operator was working on a southern aspect with 54% slopes and approximately 6 inches of snow. The daytime temperature increased to +2 degrees in the afternoon.

The buncher was working at the top of the slope when the operator over extended to grab a tree. With the now slippery snow conditions, the machine slid sideways and then flopped onto its side.

The machine began to roll down the slope before coming to a rest against a stand of trees, 163 metres from the starting zone.

Badly shaken, the worker drove himself to the hospital and was released that night with some cuts and bruises.

Potential Hazards

  • Changing snow conditions during the day due to temperature fluctuations
  • Steep Slope Hazard Assessment plan not up to date and did not match the current site conditions
  • Operator needs to identify changing conditions and work with the supervisor to make necessary changes to the steep slope assessment plan
  • Buncher was newer to this operator. New equipment may handle differently than equipment you are used to.

 

Learnings and Suggestions: 
  • Design site and logging plans that put the safety of the operator first
  • Maintain a “live” Steep Slope Hazard Assessment plan. If conditions change, update the plan
  • As an operator, if you notice that conditions are changing, re-assess what you are doing and move to a safer location to work
  • New equipment may feel different than equipment you are used to. Take the time to become familiar with the way it handles before tackling challenging terrain
  • Do not overextend the boom of the machine. Move to a safer location instead
  • All workers have the right to refuse unsafe work. Do not hesitate to say no if you are uncomfortable with the work in front of you.

 

For more information on this submitted alert: 

Kori Vernier at kori.vernier@canfor.com

File attachments
Safety_Alert_Canfor-Buncher_Rollover_02-1-2019.pdf

Yarder operator falls from machine, suffers sprained ankle

Safety Alert Type: 
Heavy Equipment
Location: 
Coastal BC
Date of Incident / Close Call: 
2019-01-26
Company Name: 
INTERFOR
Details of Incident / Close Call: 

A Grapple yarder operator was standing on the walkway of his machine, which was sitting on an angle. The operator was unable to move the machine to flat ground or swing the cab to allow the worker to stand on the tracks, due to the battery being dead.

The grapple operator opened a side compartment door and as it swung open, it caused the worker to lose his balance and fall to the ground 4 feet below. He suffered a sprained ankle as a result.

Learnings and Suggestions: 
  • Install steel mesh on walkways of the grapple yarder for better grip
  • Install handrail beside door
  • Operators should have machines on stable flat ground before entering whenever possible
  • Supervisors and Operators must regularly inspect equipment for hazards
  • Be aware of heavy doors and forces/hazards when opening.

 

For more information on this submitted alert: 

Gary Bauer, Safety Coordinator

Gary.Bauer@Interfor.com

 

File attachments
Safety_Alert_Interfor-Coastal_BC-Grapple_Operator_Falls_From_Machine-1-26-2019.pdf

Boom man slips from icy log and into water

Safety Alert Type: 
Booming and Towing
Location: 
Coastal BC
Date of Incident / Close Call: 
2019-01-21
Company Name: 
INTERFOR
Details of Incident / Close Call: 

It was a close call after dark, as an experienced Boom man fell off a log and into the water. He was wearing sharp caulks but the logs were covered in ice. While falling he jumped towards a log bundle and was able to grab the end of a log and pull himself out of the water. He was not wearing a keyhole style or auto-inflate Personal Flotation Device (PFD).

Learnings and Suggestions: 
  • With water temperature 4 to 10 degrees Celsius loss of dexterity can occur in approximately 5 minutes
  • If dark, boom workers must not work alone when and where others would be unable to render immediate assistance
  • If working alone over water, by Regulation workers must wear either keyhole style or auto-inflate Personal Flotation evice (PFD), along with high visibility shirt/jacket
  • There must be a documented (by person doing the check) check in procedure for working alone
  • Man Over Board alerts which immediately send an alarm to adjacent boat/land camp are available (for example search "Alert 418 Man Overboard Alarm System").

 

For more information on this submitted alert: 

Gary Bauer, Safety Coordinator Gary.Bauer@Interfor.com

File attachments
Safety_Alert_Interfor-Coastal_BC-Working_Alone_Over_Water-01-21-2019.pdf

Worker narrowly missed by tumbling root ball

Safety Alert Type: 
Road Building/Deactivation
Location: 
New Zealand
Date of Incident / Close Call: 
2018-05-31
Company Name: 
Kohntrol Forest Services Ltd.
Details of Incident / Close Call: 

A worker breaking out for a road-line logging operation was almost hit by a tumbling root-ball.

The picture in the attached pdf shows a typical root-ball extracted from the ground by an excavator clearing pilot tracks for a road-line logging crew. The root-ball was extracted and placed in what was thought to be a safe location that would not allow the root-ball to roll down-slope.

The near-miss incident coincided with a period of heavy rain.

Key contributing factors identified from the incident review were:

  • Heavy rain dislodged the root-ball.
  • The tracking excavator operator misjudged the stability of the slash and soil holding the root-ball in place.

 

Learnings and Suggestions: 

It is important to acknowledge the worker for reporting the incident – it has been an opportunity to review the hazard control systems by the companies involved.

Remind all earthworks (road building) contractors that extracting material which could later move, such as boulders and root-balls, must be done taking into account:

  • Changing weather conditions.
  • The legal responsibility for all workers to avoid creating a hazard for any other people on site, either in the current operation or in future operations (for example hauler breaker-outs and fallers who could be on site in 1-2 years after the road work is completed).

 

For more information on this submitted alert: 
File attachments
Safety_Alert_New_Zealand_Root-ball-close-call-5-31-2018.pdf

Log strikes forwarder cab

Safety Alert Type: 
Yarding and Loading
Location: 
New Zealand
Date of Incident / Close Call: 
2018-01-24
Company Name: 
Innovative Forestry Specialists (NZ)
Details of Incident / Close Call: 

While loading logs with a forwarder grapple in steep terrain, a log on top of the bunk was crossed up.

The machine jerked while clearing the haul track, causing the log to slide over the headboard, hit the windshield and slide right through the cab and out the back window, narrowly missing the operator.

Learnings and Suggestions: 
  • Main cause: a crossed up log on top of the load that slipped over the top of the cab guard
  • Operator must take care loading logs, ensuring that all logs are located beneath cab guard
  • Review harvesting system – i.e. shovel or grapple stems to a safer location to process and then forward logs to skid
  • Cab window failed safety specification – it did not withstand impact of log. This needs reviewing / modification.

 

For more information on this submitted alert: 

Innovative Forestry Specialists www.ifsgrowth.co.nz

File attachments
Safety_Alert_New_Zealand_Log_strikes_cab-1-24-2018.pdf

Worker's finger in the bight of wire rope caught on stump

Safety Alert Type: 
Yarding and Loading
Location: 
New Zealand
Date of Incident / Close Call: 
2018-08-29
Company Name: 
Forest Management New Zealand Ltd.
Details of Incident / Close Call: 

The incident occurred during a routine line shift, when a worker attempted to release the tail rope which had snagged on a stump.

After stopping the rope and getting slack he went in to throw the rope over the stump. He saw that there was slack in the rope from the stump to the hauler but couldn’t see that down the hill the rope still had weight on it over the gully.

He gave the rope a yank holding the tail rope each side of the stump, the movement caused the rope to move quickly dragging his hand around the stump crushing his middle and ring fingers.

This incident resulted in a lost time injury with the worker losing part of his middle finger, and highlights a work activity that takes place on a regular basis and may be getting overlooked for risk assessment.

Learnings and Suggestions: 
  • Don't rush to un-snag a wire rope without first stopping to properly assess the situation. Complete a thorough risk assessment.
  • Never assume - look for any part of the wire rope that may still be suspended or under tension, slacken ropes further if necessary.
  • Ask for assistance from a co-worker (another pair of eyes and/or hands) if you need to.

 

For more information on this submitted alert: 
File attachments
Safety_Alert-New_Zealand_Finger_caught_in_wire_rope-8-29-2018.pdf
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