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Safety: Vehicle Safety

An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure

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The National Timber Harvesting and Transportation Safety (THATS) Foundation, administered by the Forest Resources Association, works to provide operator and equipment safety information to a huge number of industry workers. To that end, The Forest Resources Association's Southwide Safety Committee developed the following as a guide to safety and as general information on accident prevention in timber harvesting with ground-based logging systems.

Operation of Mobile Woods Equipment
Logging operations have progressed from manual felling and loading and the use of light tractors for skidding to highly mechanized harvesting operations using cable and grapple rubber tired skidders, various types of felling and bunching machines, delimbing units, hydraulic knuckleboom loaders, bulldozers, and other units of heavy equipment. Each type of equipment is a key part of the timber production process. The equipment units are expensive, tough, highly productive, efficient machines. Each unit must be maintained in order to obtain maximum efficiency and production. A well trained, responsible operator not only can make the difference in quality, quantity, and safety of production; but also can significantly affect the profit or loss of any operation.

Equipment Guidelines
Inspect equipment before initial use each work shift. Make a complete walk around inspection before starting machines. Defects must be repaired before operating the machines.

  • Check hydraulic hoses for leakage, loose fittings, or damage. Replace or repair as needed.
  • Check fuel, engine oil, and all fluid levels.
  • Check tires, brakes, winch, grapple, cable, chokers, felling attachment and/or other mechanical parts for proper operation and safety.
  • Check fire suppression equipment.
  • Operator should follow the manufacturer's recommendations for safe equipment operations and maintenance.
  • Fueling shall be performed only while the machine and engine are stopped.

Woods equipment shall be equipped with proper roll over protective structure (ROPS), and/or falling object protective structure (FOPS), limb risers, proper muffler and exhaust, and a fully protective operator station. The total upper portion of the cab shall be fully enclosed with mesh material or other material which provides equivalent protection and visibility.

Each machine cab will have two exit doors or hatches. Do not alter or disengage back up alarms on mobile equipment. Ensure they are in proper working condition.

Guarding shall be in place at all times machine is in operation. Maintain all protective screens, shields, and covers at all times during operation. Maintain guardrails, operator protective devices, and hand holds on machines where needed.

Debarking, limbing, and chipping machines shall be equipped with guarding to protect employees from flying wood chunks, logs, chips, bark, limbs, and other debris.

Regularly perform preventive maintenance by cleaning oil, grease, mud, and trash from the steps and operator's compartment. Perform the manufacturer's recommended scheduled maintenance. Steel decks of machines and other machine workstations shall have safety tread or other non-slip material.

Operator Guidelines
Only a trained operator shall be allowed on the unit. Never carry riders.

CAREFULLY mount or dismount your machine using the 3-point contact (both feet and one hand or both hands and one foot facing the machine). The most common cause of injury for equipment operators is slipping and falling while mounting or dismounting their machines. Do not jump from machines.

Use proper personal protective equipment (hard hat, safety boots, gloves, eye and hearing protection) when needed. Wear properly fitted clothes appropriate for the job. Floppy cuffs, dangling shirttails, and loose or frayed material that might catch or snag on equipment controls or moving parts and logs shall not be worn. Workers should remove finger rings, necklaces, or jewelry which may be hazardous in equipment operation.

Keep hands, feet, arms, and clothing away from exposed moving parts.

When starting a machine:

  • Check to be certain all other workers are at a safe distance from the unit.
  • Allow proper warm-up and wait for all gauges to register properly.
  • Check proper operation of all controls, attachments, steering, brakes, and other hydraulic functions.
  • Raise the blade, cable and chokers, boom, grapple, or other attachments before moving the unit.

General Rule(s) of Thumb
An operator's manual shall be available and used in operator training. The operating and maintenance instructions shall be with each machine or at the nearest operational log landing.

Seat belts shall be provided for all machines equipped with ROPS, FOPS, or overhead guards. Operators of machines equipped with seatbelts must wear them.

Keep proper fire suppression equipment available on all units at all times of operation. Daily check all fire suppression equipment units for proper contents and charges.

Keep a first aid kit available on each woods equipment unit.
Remove loose items from the operator's compartment.
Never transport flammable liquids on woods equipment units.

At least once a day remove trash from the engine and other heat producing areas of logging machines.

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