Layout Planning: A Focus on Faller Safety

Layout Planning: A Focus on Faller Safety

Layout Planning A Focus on Faller Safety As an occupational safety officer, when I
do my inspections of a harvesting operation, one thing we look at is the planning behind it. And that starts with the layout engineer
and the work that they do in putting the blocks together. They target a block of value and they traverse the block, they walk the block. They’re looking at stream drainages, looking at resource features, timber value and accessibility, and basically coming up with an overall block harvest plan. You’re really trying to envision how machinery is going to move on a slope, how you’re going to get access into areas, and then also what’s going to be left long term. It’s a balancing act. The visuals, safety culture, modified trees, the streams, and then the timber. There’s so many different competing values that you’re working with. It’s not easy to go into an area where the trees are all still standing and you can only see 50 feet in front of you. The logger can come in and cut the trees down and say “why didn’t you do this?” or “why didn’t you do that?” When the layout engineer was in there and the trees are still standing, it’s a completely different perspective. There are decisions layout engineers can make that can be dangerous for me, they can be dangerous for the rigging crew coming after me if things aren’t done properly. A layout engineer could impact a faller by not knowing the hazards that fallers come across. There’s many different factors that should be taken into consideration while layout engineers are in the block hanging ribbon. Layout engineers are definitely not putting anybody in jeopardy on purpose. There may be a circumstance where you can lay out something that may be unsafe, but it’s not apparent to you at the time you’re there. Faller Isolation We’re looking at a large typical coastal
drainage, and there are some examples of smaller blocks that isolate the fallers where they’re probably chasing the value; that creates challenges for brushing and it’s also the potential for stacking, which is also a concern for the health and safety of fallers as well. There’s times that you have these little pod blocks where there’s barely enough room for two fallers; sometimes there’s barely enough room for one faller. When you’re in isolation like that, if it takes more than 10 minutes for people to get to you, it’s really dangerous because if you get hurt you’d break your leg or something. Access is really, really important to my job. Some of the things you can do are try not to have pinch points where a faller can’t fall safely, try to make them as wide as possible
with escape routes, but at the end of the day, the fallers need to check that area out and maybe that’s an area where you have to have an alternate plan. – Understand the hazards to fallers working in small, isolated cutblocks. – Consider qualified assistance, faller evacuation routes, and methods of evacuation. Small Openings Chasing high-value wood — that’s the
layout engineer’s goal at the end of the day — but we don’t want to be doing that to sacrifice any faller s afety. If a follower has to scramble up a bluff to get that one big tree, maybe it’s not worth it. It’s fine if you had nice wood, but you have to have a place to put it safely, and if you can’t do that then it’s not worth even getting it. Especially if you got to fall it out on the timber; when they try to yard that they’re gonna pull trees over, it’s putting everybody in danger. And by the time you get that it’s not really worth the extra cost to go chase that just for those few trees. There’s been times where the line goes nice and straight and then it’ll just veer off. It creates challenges. So to consider what some of those hazards might be to a faller is something that they could do to help improve the safety down the line for the next phase. – Consider faller safety when chasing high-value timber. – Establish a safe area to fall the trees. – To avoid brushing, blocks must have sufficient length and width. Non-Linear Boundaries: When we talk about creating linear boundaries, we’re looking at kind of straighter lines and not so much jagged lines. It kind of goes against what some of the visual requirements are now, so it’s a challenge. It’s great to just draw a straight boundary, but a lot of the times that doesn’t work with your contouring and what’s going on on your map, and so these amoeba shapes are really at
the forefront of the industry today. More jogs and more zigzags in the line
creates more brushing. It creates more work. You’re wedging more, when keeping it
straight there’s your line and, you know, we work up. You’re not trying to put trees up the hill or around corners or anything like that. Try to stay away from the sharp points. If you’re gonna make a jog, try to make it like at least a tree length long so the faller has somewhere to lay the wood safely and nicely for
the tower, so that when they hook that butt, it just swings right out nicely. – Irregularly shaped boundaries may create hazards. – When changing boundary direction, ensure there is sufficient room to fall the trees safely. – Changes in boundary direction should be at least one tree-length apart. Retention: Every time you leave standing trees and you’re falling trees around them, that means the fallers have to avoid
contacting retention trees and clumps. It creates complexities to the falling plan and it creates additional risk. Some of the things the layout engineer can do: situate the location of the retention in groups as much as possible along the edges of the cutblocks. It’s not always possible; avoid situations where the faller would have to brush timber or fall through standing timber and things of that nature. You can take out those hazardous
areas like the gully draws and the steep bluffs so you can just incorporate those
hazards into the retention areas and try to minimize the hazards in the block for the fallers. – Plan retention to minimize risk to fallers and other workers. – Consider forest health and danger tree assessment when planning retention. – Position retention in areas that will minimize brushing by fallers and reduce hazards to other workers. Tree Lean: Predominant lean in a cutblock is something that a layout engineer should be able to assess. You don’t want to be putting landings in positions where it would force the faller to fight the predominant lean of the timber. If they’re working too hard to wedge every
tree, that increases the fatigue on the faller and it can create some issues there. If they look at the lean of the wood and say OK all these lean hard towards the creek, there’s no way the faller is gonna get in here and do
that, so if you have to, move it back, move the line back a distance where you know he can at least fall the trees straight down to keep them out of the
creek because if they’re leaned too hard towards the creek, then even if you try
and fall them straight down, lots of times you’re going to brush all
that timber up along the side line. Knowing the lean of the timber will play
a big part of how they lay the block out. Maybe they take more, maybe they take
less as well if they come to a draw where it’s out of deflection for yarding
and all the wood is essentially leaning that way, there’s no feasible way that they will fall inside the block. So by educating layout engineers of a timber lean and what can be felled safely and what can’t be felled safely, is definitely something to consider
and to work together with. With experience you could tell if that tree can be felled inside or not, so hang the boundaries so that the trees leaning outside are outside of the block then that even takes that decision away from the faller of having the pressure of trying to
decide if he has to fall that tree or not. – Consider the predominant lean as it relates to resource features, retention, and harvesting direction. – Adjust the boundary to account for the tree lean. – Ensure cutblock prescription gives fallers the option to leave safe trees leaning outside the edges of the block. Rock Bluffs: A rock bluff can create a lot of problems for a faller. Obvious hazards would be, you know, scaling a rock bluff to try and get up to a tree. It really cuts down on escape routes for a faller if they’ve got nowhere to go. It’s caused some serious injuries and
fatalities over the years. The base of a rock bluff — half of your escape route is already gone because the rock bluff’s there, so you only got two directions you
can go, and if you’re falling the tree one way now you only have one direction
you can go, so if there’s any type of incident you’re pretty limited as far as
safety, falling at the base of a rock bluff. When you’re falling a tree on a rock bluff, once you’re trying to get away, once that tree’s going over, you got twice the hazard. You’re not only worried about the tree, you gotta worry about falling off the rock bluff. – How did you manage those rock bluffs?
– We did leave a few trees… There’s times that you got to leave trees because you can’t fall them safely because it’ll limit your visibility, it’ll limit your escape route, or there’s something on that rock bluff that is tied in with the tree you’re trying to fall, which creates chain reactions, which is just one more avenue that we can avoid. The ground engineers are working in now tends to have more and more rock bluffs. We’re definitely getting off the valley
bottoms, we’re up into the steeper side hills. Sometimes you find 10 meter tall bluffs and a lot of times it is easier just to cut the bluff out and just have your top boundary
come down underneath it and then when the ground lets you, go
back up and get more of the timber. – Clearly identify bluffs in the planning phase. – Consider leaving a buffer of standing trees at the base of the bluff to ensure faller escape route and cover. – When possible, ribbon rock bluffs outside the block. As an occupational safety officer for
WorkSafeBC, I’d like to see a little better collaboration and communication
between the layout engineering phase and the harvesting phase. Hazard identification in the layout phase can go a long ways towards improving the planning of the overall operation and the safety of the fallers. When they’re doing layout, they need to look at the whole operation together: skidding direction, where the road placement is, lean of the wood, how the faller’s gonna fall it compared to where it’s got to go, what landing it has to be skidded to. Communication is really, really important, so everybody’s working on the same page. I think for myself, what I’ve improved the most on, is just by having the opportunity to see
my work after it’s been logged and the opportunity to talk to logging contractors either during the logging or afterwards so that communication between planning up front and the execution is where most of your
learning opportunities are. Sometimes a project goes through 10 people from recceing a block to replanting a block. It is really important that you’re going in, you’re taking the time to understand the block, and then you’re discussing it with other
people and even going out during the falling phase and see it happening and getting feedback and just, like, keeping that dialogue flowing because I think it’s the only way that you learn and grow. Fallers and layout engineers educating each other on each other’s jobs would make a big difference. Showing, you know, what we come across on a daily basis with the timber type and terrain
and danger trees and hazards. I know in our business, you learn every day and the day you stop learning is the day you probably should get out of the industry. Everyone has to realize we’re all a team out there trying to get the job done, from engineering and planning to falling to harvesting of the logs, we’re all working together and the more communication we have the better. I’d like to see the industry looking at opening the lines of communication. I think whenever we can cross train and cross reference what we do in the forest, I think it has huge value and ultimately we’ll improve health and safety for hand fallers.


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    R M

    im a youtube tree choppin pro, and everything youre doin is wrong! just chop em all down clean it up later. Whatever the timeline is, extend it to suit your needs, Bam! $$$$

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