By Jim Stirling
Forestry safety and injury prevention programs are frequently most effective when the industry itself takes a leadership role. A training and assessment program for new logging truck drivers in central British Columbia is a good example of the industry championing a practical solution to an expanding problem.
Major licencee Canfor has taken the initiative and is committed to working with logging contractors and other partners on an operational and shared cost model to encourage more new logging truck drivers to enter into the system, outlined Dustin Meierhofer, director of transportation and northern safety with the BC Forest Safety Council (BCFSC). The council is involved in the program primarily through its Trucking Advisory Group, which includes most major licencees in B.C.
Canfor’s offer of financial assistance can be a persuasive benefit for cash-strapped logging truck driver aspirants to gain a foothold in the profession. The initiative is certainly timely. The large numbers of experienced logging truck drivers recently retired or on the cusp of retiring is contributing to a significant shortage of trucks and qualified drivers in many parts of the province.
“It’s still early days but it’s been a pretty successful venture so far,” added Meierhofer. “The objective now is to roll it out further and hopefully get more licencees involved.”
Helping broker solutions to safety-related issues for the logging truck sector is just one example of the BCFSC’s work spreading across several different fronts. For example, a spate of logging truck rollovers—including some high profile incidents on public roads—helped instigate the development in 2013 of the BCFSC’s Truck Advisory Group (TAG). An awareness program was developed that examined the anatomy of a rollover, recalled Meierhofer. “It examined rollovers and some of the related challenges.” Key among them are truck speed, road conditions and overweight issues.
Meierhofer reckons about 3,000 log haulers in B.C. have participated in these awareness seminars and continue to do so. “The reaction from the drivers has generally been very positive,” he reports.
Creating higher levels of awareness has helped speed become a specific issue for discussion across the province and it’s fostered a fuller understanding that the weight loaded on a logging truck is critical to its handling—and the vehicle’s dynamics and performance.
The safety council’s broad based awareness approach to reducing logging truck rollovers in B.C. seems to be working. In 2013, there were 51 such incidents in B.C. By 2016, the number was down to around 15. “Industry-wide, the numbers have come down substantially—but the issue remains a concern.”
The safety council’s TAG launched a monitoring program of logging truck weights being hauled in B.C. Contractors were more closely tracked to ensure the loads being delivered to millyards were in compliance with the sawmills’ tolerances. “Overall, we’ve had good success with that,” noted Meierhofer.
Driver fatigue is another factor involved in efforts to reduce the numbers and severity of incidents involving logging trucks. The hours a logging truck driver can legally be on the job are regulated by the provincial Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement restrictions.
“We need to identify the challenges related to the hours worked—especially when night shifts are involved—and how the industry can help alleviate them,” he continued.
The BCFSC initiated a series of fatigue awareness seminars around B.C. which Meierhofer estimates have been attended by around 1,000 people. “The seminars help raise awareness of how to manage fatigue in the workplace, and how fatigue applies to operational performance and safety.”
The physical nature of logging truck equipment that drivers operate continues its evolution, potentially contributing to more safety issues. The introduction of nine-axle logging trucks to B.C. highways is currently being examined. A pilot project involving hauling with four nine-axle trucks was recently completed in the Vanderhoof region of central B.C. The forest industry and FPInnovations are monitoring and evaluating the results of the trial.
There is considerable appeal and benefits to the industry from the wider permitting of nine-axle logging trucks in the province. The extra axles increase the truck’s gross vehicle weight by around 16 per cent and up to 71 tonnes on a vehicle about eight feet longer than a conventional logging truck. The effects of that for industry include a reduction in transportation costs and possibly fewer logging trucks consuming less fuel travelling specific highways. The industry also makes the case that nine-axle logging trucks have improved braking abilities and cause less damage to road surfaces through more even weight distribution.
Meierhofer said the BCFSC has been keeping a watchful eye on the trucks’ development. “There have been no major safety issues identified, but this is still in its early stages. Our role is to work with industry to find solutions to any problems that do arise.” He noted the site specific use of nine-axle logging trucks is not a new concept, except in B.C. “This technology has been introduced in other parts of Canada and used internationally.”
On the Cover:
For Vancouver Island logger Jesse Drover of JBM Falling Ltd, getting involved in steep slope logging was a natural progression. Drover operated a feller buncher for 13 years, so he was very familiar with mechanical harvesting before starting work with the ClimbMax steep slope harvester—and the tethered harvesting system is working out well for him, doing steep slope logging on the Island. (Cover photo by Paul MacDonald).
Keep on truckin’…
The BC Forest Safety Council—and forest industry—are taking a leadership role in a training program for new logging truck drivers in the province, spurred on by the large number of experienced logging truck drivers retiring.
Taking over—and tackling steep slopes
The next generation is gradually taking over at B.C.’s Van Ommen Contracting, and they’re finding steep slopes ahead of them—but there’s good equipment out there to tackle those steep slopes.
A great fit for steep slopes, Island style
The New Zealand-developed and built ClimbMax tethered harvesting system is making its mark on Vancouver Island—and logger Jesse Drover says the steep ground they have to work in is ideal for the ClimbMax.
Co-operative contracting in Quebec
Quebec’s Eclaircie Gaspesie contract logging operation has found its own path to success: a combination of equipment operators David Lévesque and Sebastian LeBlanc, along with forestry co-operative Groupement forestier cooperative Baie des Chaleurs—supported by solid Ponsse equipment.
SATCO head gets thumbs-up in Alberta
Alberta logging operation R. Bruce Erickson Construction says their new SATCO processing head is performing well, with the company’s Cody Erickson giving the head the thumbs-up both in its production capabilities and precision.
Kiwi super sawmill
The recent start-up of a new line at the Red Stag sawmill in New Zealand has created a lot of excitement, as the mill could now be the largest in the southern hemisphere—and there’s certainly no doubt that it is super fast and super accurate.
The next big thing in plywood
Already known for embracing technology and innovation, Oregon’s Freres Lumber is now taking its operations a step further, building a specialized manufacturing facility to produce the company’s newest innovation, Mass Plywood Panels.
Included in this edition of The Edge, Canada’s leading publication on research in the forest industry, are stories from the Canadian Wood Fibre Centre, Alberta Innovates, Alberta Agriculture and FPInnovations.
The Last Word
It’s time for a mountain pine beetle battle plan—involving the Feds—in Jasper National Park, says Tony Kryzanowski.