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Logging and Sawmilling Journal November 2014

December/January 2015

On the Cover:
Equipment manufacturer T-Mar Industries is addressing the increasing volumes of second-growth timber on steep slopes in B.C. with its new Log Champ 550 grapple yarder. The first Log Champ 550 is being used by new owners Southview Forest Services Ltd. on Redonda Island, on B.C.’s lower coast, yarding second-growth fir. (Cover photo and story photos courtesy of T-Mar Industries)

The forest industry worker gap—and becoming ‘cool’
The forest industry can no longer assume the huge workforces it has been used to in the past are still going to be there when it needs them. It now needs to capture the hearts and minds of its future workforce—in short, it needs to be considered a ‘cool’ and lucrative career choice.

Safety champion
Don Banasky, president of the Truck Loggers Association and vice-president of operations at fast-growing Tamihi Logging, is a champion of safety in B.C.’s coastal forest industry.

Winning the sawmill battle—and the war
Saskatchewan’s L & M Wood Products is winning the employee training battle, with a program that was actually designed for training people on the manufacturing line in World War II.

True multi-purpose head
B.C.’s Tolko Industries has been trying out the GP grapple processor head, produced by Pierce Pacific, and after six months the multi-purpose GP head has been able to prove its stuff successfully in two different types of trials in the B.C. Interior.

Canada’s newest sawmill revs upLakeland Mills’ newly completed sawmill in Prince George, B.C., is like no other sawmill built before it in terms of production, employing the very latest technology to attain the maximum recovery and value from its available wood fibre—but with a very strong focus on safety.

The New Lakeland Team

More stringent WorkSafeBC
investigation techniques being
introduced

Sinclar Group a PowerSmart leader

Lakeland’s—and the Sinclar
Group’s—rich community history

The Edge
Included in The Edge, Canada’s leading publication on research in the forest industry, are stories from the Canadian Wood Fibre Centre, Alberta Innovates - Bio Solutions and FPInnovations.

New grapple yarder for British Columbia loggers
Working with its industry-leading design expertise—and with an industry heritage reaching back decades—T-Mar Industries recently introduced the Log Champ 550, its new steep slope grapple yarder designed to take on the increasing volumes of second-growth timber in B.C.

Going four-wheeling with Waratah’s new head
Waratah’s new 622C 4x4 multi-tree processing head with four roller drive is getting solid praise from the folks at McNeil and Sons Logging in the B.C. Interior, where it makes for a solid harvesting combo with a John Deere 2154D carrier.

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Don BanaskySafety Champion

Don Banasky, president of the Truck Loggers Association and vice-president of operations at fast-growing Tamihi Logging, is a champion of safety in B.C.’s coastal forest industry.

By Paul MacDonald

There’s no doubt about it—Don Banasky is a champion of safety in B.C.’s coastal forest industry. The vice-president of operations at Tamihi Logging—and the president of industry association, Truck Loggers Association—has been acknowledged for his safety efforts.

Truck Loggers President Don Banasky started from the ground up in the B.C. forest industry, working as a chokerman, and has had a strong focus on safety throughout his career.

Banasky received the Forest Safety MVP of the Year award in the fall of 2013, from the BC Forest Safety Council. The award recognizes an individual or group that has made a notable contribution to forest industry safety within their operation or company.

Banasky has had a long commitment to safety. It has not only been at the top of his list with the companies he has worked for, but he has volunteered his services to help others improve their safety programs.

And he knows safety from the ground up. He started out his career in 1994 and worked as a chokerman, rigging slinger, hooktender, and a mechanical processor operator for forest company, TimberWest Forest Corp. In fact, Banasky can still recall the processor he worked on: a Hitachi 330 carrier with a Keto processing head. Along the way, he has operated dozers, excavators and off-highway rock trucks.

He’s tackled a lot of the heavy equipment used in the British Columbia coastal forest industry.

In 2002, along with Bryan Gregson, Banasky launched FallTech Logging Ltd., which provided mechanical falling and bunching services of a million cubic metres of logs a year. At the time, he also began D. Banasky Logging Consultants Ltd., which focused on project management, safety, and systems development, team building and training.

In 2011, FallTech Logging Ltd. was purchased by the Nanaimo, B.C.-based The Gregson Group, which has more than 30 years of experience doing land clearing and roadbuilding work in B.C. Banasky provided consulting and management service to both companies.

Truck Loggers AssociationIn November, Banasky took over as vice-president of operations at Tamihi Logging, based in the Fraser Valley, where he works closely with Tamihi Logging owner Brian Dorman, and his son, Jesse.

Banasky is one heck of a busy guy. As noted, he also serves as a President of the Truck Loggers Association (TLA) and sits on numerous committees including the Steep Slope Advisory Committee, Incident Investigation Advisory Committee, Safety Training and Industrial Relations Committee, and various other safety committees, working to make a difference in the B.C. forest industry.

In 2013, he was part of the working team overhauling SAFE Certification into an updated, industry owned certification system to reduce fatalities and serious injuries in the B.C. forest industry.

With his safety and leadership experience, Banasky has been asked to visit and speak to groups in the United Kingdom and New Zealand on integrating safety, quality and production in forestry contracting operations.

In accepting the Forest Safety MVP of the Year award, Banasky reminded everyone that they just had to look around the room to see all the personal connections and why safety is so important. He encouraged and challenged everyone to get back to the basics—to go beyond the stereotypes that rough, tough forestry folk don’t talk—and really communicate. “Acknowledge people as individuals—speak up for safety and speak up for co-workers.”

In an interview, Banasky said he believes his varied background in the forest industry serves him well. “It allows me to talk with people who are out there in the bush, because I’ve been there and done that with many things on the logging side.”

Both then, and now, Banasky looks for the better way to do things. “I’m kind of a sponge that way—I want to learn and do better. And safety has always been a big component of that.”

He’s quick to note that the industry has made some significant strides forward from the days when accidents were just accepted. There were safety programs, but the best advice was often… try to stay out of the bight.

The focus then, he recalls, was on production. “We wanted to get as many logs out of the bush as we could—often you would be stepping off a log just as it started to move.”

But Banasky developed an interest in safety, and got his Level 3 first aid only a few years into his career. “That raised my awareness of injuries and accident outcomes.”

It also led in part to setting up his own company, which in part focused on logging safety. “I started developing new safety systems around the equipment, different lock-out styles compared to what was being used and more awareness of what machines may or may not be capable of doing, and what to watch out for when you’re doing equipment maintenance,” he explained. And that commitment to safety continues to this day.

Each day, Banasky and his colleagues at Tamihi Logging work hard to see that safety is an important part of every employee’s work day.

Truck Loggers AssociationTo help that along, they ensure people are working with modern, and well-maintained, logging equipment.

These days, Tamihi has 26 highway trucks, five off-highway trucks, two low-beds, 16 log loaders, three bunchers, two processors and they run three Madill grapple yarders. In the equipment fleet is a fair bit of Hitachi equipment, from B.C. Hitachi dealer, Wajax. Included in this are four new Hitachi ZX290 Forester log loaders, a ZX290 Forester road builder, a 210 road builder and a 290 Rock Drill.

Tamihi Logging also has a fair bit of Madill equipment, including eight log loaders—a combination of 2800, 2850 and 3800 machines.

They also have three Madill grapple yarders—two 120 machines, and a 122 unit—three Madill 071 mini towers and two older 90-foot Madill yarders. They have two Madill bunchers, a 2250 tilter with a 24-inch Quadco head and a 2250 flat bottom, with a Madill head.

Also fairly new to the operation is a Tigercat 870 buncher, with a Tigercat head, and a massive Tigercat 635D skidder, from B.C. Tigercat dealer, Inland Kenworth Parker Pacific. Just prior to their purchase of the Hitachi equipment, they bought three Cat 325 machines, two of which are doing processing work, and the other is a log loader. The 325 machines have Southstar heads. Also new in the last few years are two Cat 320 machines, and a John Deere 210.

Also in the equipment line-up at Tamihi Logging are some Link-Belt loaders, and a Hyundai loader with a power clam in one of their log sorts.

All this new equipment is nice, of course, but service, is key, too, says Banasky. “At the end of the day, to a certain extent, machines are machines—it’s how well they are supported that’s going to make the difference for you.”

In the past, safety efforts in the forest industry have been mostly focused on what goes on in the bush. But Banasky is one of those in the industry who believes that to keep on top of safety, companies increasingly need to consider what goes on beyond the workplace—at home. And he is seeing that implemented and practiced throughout the industry.

“A lot of safety for me in the last few years is about the individual loggers, and their home lives. The decisions they make off the job—and the mindset that can be created from what is happening off the job, wither it be financial burdens, family relationship issue, substance abuse … or whatever.

“That can all impact their ability to think clearly each second of the day at work—and that’s huge. People do make poor work decisions sometimes, and it can be because they are distracted with all the other things going on in their lives.” The industry can provide tools, through initiatives such as Employee Assistance Programs, for people to make changes in their lives, he believes.

And Banasky continues to fight against the long-held view that injuries are just the cost of working in a high risk job, in the forest industry. The work culture has to change in the forest industry, he says.

“We’re trained, we’re well qualified; why are we getting hurt? People say, well, stuff happens, that it’s just a dangerous industry. That does not cut it in 2014—that’s BS.

Truck Loggers AssociationEach day, Don Banasky and his colleagues at Tamihi Logging in B.C.’s Fraser Valley work hard to see that safety is an important part of every employee’s work day. To help that along, they ensure people are working with modern, and well maintained, logging equipment, both in the bush and in the sortyard.

“Yes, it’s an industry known to be dangerous, but we need to manage our work activities, create safe work conditions, and qualify our people, and help keep them focused. For example, a logging contractor might have the most productive, efficient piece of logging equipment going—but they could have a distracted operator running that equipment who might be a danger to himself and others.”

Banasky said there is some risk of pushback to the move to helping employees deal with issues off the job—after all, they are used to dealing with issues that are only on the job. “You can’t—and don’t want to—dig into someone’s personal life, but you can create a space where they can openly communicate, and we encourage them to communicate.”

All of this may sound a bit soft compared to the macho image of loggers from the past. But more than anything, Banasky is interested in achieving results, and seeing fewer people in the industry injured, and killed. And communication, such as talking about any issues an employee might have, on or off the job, is an important part of that.

And so is talking about close calls.

Banasky has had his share of close calls. “And I’ve seen many guys get hurt in the years past. Something new is we’re encouraging people to talk about their close calls now. We don’t want to place blame or give people crap. It’s important to let your employees know it’s ok to talk about this—you want to get rid of that fear.

“Knowing about close calls allows us to dig in a little bit, and it allows us to pass that information to our other workers, and to industry, so perhaps they don’t get in the same situation. If it was a close call for one person, it might not be a close call for someone else—it might be an injury, or even a fatality.”

In terms of injuries related to logging equipment, often it’s as basic as reminding people to execute three point contact when entering and exit equipment—meaning keeping two hands and one foot or two feet in contact. Studies say than one-quarter of all injuries to equipment operators and truck drivers occur during mounting and dismounting.

And the equipment makers, and dealers, can also be part of the safety effort, and make improvements to their machines. Banasky said both Madill and Tigercat are very interested in getting feedback on their machines.

“Tigercat wants to know if something might need to be changed—and they get their engineering department on it, and it is fixed or a retrofit goes out and it is fixed.”

Much has changed on the safety front in the B.C. forest industry, but more change is still to come—and that’s a good thing, says Banasky. The BC Forest Safety Council, along with industry, has done a solid job of making changes in the industry, and reducing injuries and fatalities. But there is now a shift going on, and the council is making a move in the direction of the industry “owning” what it does, with more training and development directed by the industry, and the people in the bush. “We want to minimize the paperwork and bureaucracy, and maximize delivering the safety message to people on the ground,” says Banansky. “That’s how we can continue to improve things on the safety side.”