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Forest Worker Safety Network

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THIS FIRST:

Forest Worker Safety Network Final Update
Forest Safety - By Satellite
Youtube.com Logging Video Feature Pick

fwsn 2008

FOREST WORKER SAFETY NETWORK FINAL UPDATE
FWSN.org goes off-line in March after eleven years of advocating for safe logging and sawmilling workplaces.

This February update with be our last update as the website will go dark in March.

The Forest Worker Safety Network website was formed eleven years ago as a response to a demand for a worker-focused information and networking system due to a rise in forest industry fatalities and injuries.

FWSN.org began its activities by disseminating information developed for BC Coastal loggers and woodlands employees, from stump to dump and beyond. By collecting information on safety issues in the sector and also on the urgent and pressing issues that groups of workers and individuals face, FWSN.org has provided general health and safety information and information on the United Steelworker's (USW) ongoing efforts to stop needless fatalities and injuries.

The FWSN.org was available to all BC forest workers, at no cost, whether or not they are members of the United Steelworkers union. And after eleven years online, we believe that the website has contributed to lessening the number of forest industry fatalities and injuries in some way. So it's not surprising that FWSN.org is pleased to report that our monthly updates were well-received by both unionized and non-unionized subscribers.

For forest industry safety awareness from other sources, consider visiting SAFER.ca or the BC Forest Safety Council.

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FOREST SAFETY—BY SATELLITE 
Satellite technology is transforming lone worker safety in the forest industry by ensuring no worker is ever without access to a vital line of communications in the remote locations so common to the industry.

By Jim Mandala - Logging & Sawmilling Journal - December/January 2017

As On September 11, 2016 in an area west of Campbell River, B.C., a faller died as a result of his injuries when the snag he was falling broke up and struck him. In a similar incident on July 4, near Bella Bella, B.C., another faller was fatally injured when a danger tree fell in an unintended direction and hit him.

According to the BC Forest Safety Council (BCFSC) there were nine fatalities in the province’s logging sector in 2016, as of November 2016. This is after a spike in logger deaths in 2015 led WorkSafeBC to call a special meeting with industry representatives to discuss ways to improve safety in the forest.

While the details of the most recent tragic fatalities have not yet been disclosed, among the key challenges facing loggers and lone workers is the remote locations where they work. These locations are typically well outside the scope of cellphone coverage, which severely limits communication capabilities and in the event of an accident, time to rescue. As a result, resource companies are increasingly looking to the next generation of satellite technology to bring dependable, fast, mobile coverage even in the most remote locations.

Many companies operating in resource-based sectors such as oil and gas have already started the shift away from legacy voice-based safety programs to affordable, satellite-enabled lone worker check-in procedures—a trend that is poised to continue and one that readily applies to the forest industry.

Consider a few key stats: According to the National Search and Rescue Secretariat, Canada has one of the world’s largest areas of responsibility for search and rescue, covering 18 million square kilometres of land and water. Forestry, oil and gas, mining and maritime companies largely operate within the almost eight million square kilometres outside the reach of traditional cellular and GSM networks.

While mandates vary across the country, most provinces have regulations in force to protect lone workers in the field, requiring organizations to maintain always-on and reliable contact with workers. For example, in an effort to further prioritize safety, the BC Forest Safety Council created the SAFE companies certification program that has made certification, which includes worker check-in requirements, a prerequisite to bid on or to carry out certain work.

Until recently, companies in the natural resources sector have had to rely on two-way radios to stay connected to their workers in the field and meet Lone Worker regulations. But there was no guarantee someone was available to pick up on the other end in the event of an emergency. As well, without GPS capabilities, it was almost impossible for employers and search and rescue responders to quickly determine the location and needs of stranded or injured workers and respond in a timely manner.

That’s where satellite phones, messengers and data hot spots are making the difference by allowing workers to be where they need to be and stay connected and safe. Devices such as the SPOT GPS Satellite Messenger are one such affordable, practical and effective solution for lone worker check-in. This GPS-enabled communications device enables more accurate and consistent check-in procedures, creates a digital trail of where the worker is at all times and features an SOS button, which will send GPS coordinates of the worker’s location. The device can also be used in an emergency situation to map the best routes to get into a cut area or to track cuttings, for example, for future reference, improving both safety and efficiency.

In the logging industry, maintaining and repairing equipment often requires traveling to remote regions of the province. Black Diamond Mechanical & Welding Ltd. does much of its equipment servicing in its Parksville, B.C. shop facility. In many cases, however, technicians have to travel hundreds of miles to service machines in the field. One logging site, Taleomy, is so remote, there is no cell service and no access road. Crew are transported by a Turbine Otter float plane and the equipment and heavy supplies arrive via tug and barge.

To maintain voice communications between master mechanics and remote technicians working in field operations, Black Diamond has been a long-time user of Globalstar GSP-1700 satellite phones. Recently, it became the very first business in Canada to deploy Globalstar’s new Sat-Fi satellite hotspot technology so that workers can use their devices (Wi-Fi enabled smartphones, tablets and laptops) to send and receive satellite communications.

“With Sat-Fi, our remote crews can use their own smartphones, tablets and computers to communicate using reliable satellite technology, without the need to access to cellular or GSM networks,” says Black Diamond owner David Pope. “This ensures we have open and operational communications networks with our field crews at all times.” For more information visit Globalstar.com/BlackDiamond.

Satellite is delivering on the Internet of Things promise that anything that can be connected and will be connected by extending its reach to otherwise unreachable places. This keeps lone workers safe in the process and helps ensure compliance with lone worker regulations and check-in policies. For example, Calgary-based Aware360 is using SPOT satellite technology to develop exception-based monitoring software solutions for lone worker applications in the oil and gas and other resource-based industries.

“Pre-satellite, the only time we’d know you were safe would be when you were on the phone with a monitoring center agent,” says Rod Heitrich, vice-president of business development, Aware360. “When SPOT came out, we were able to have workers check in or immediately send an SOS with location and be tracked for the first time in the 80 per cent of the country not covered by cellular service. The monitor centre can see where you are the whole time, without taking calls, knowing that each worker is OK unless they signal otherwise.”

The Aware360 WorkAlone solution, along with SPOT Satellite technology, is designed for people working in high risk activities such as forestry where they are almost always remote and often alone. Heitrich explains that “SPOT satellite technology made the broad application of digital exception-based software possible and enabled us to significantly improve worker safety outcomes.”

With this type of exception-based digital monitoring, employers were for the first time able to provide their remote lone workers with “automated check-ins and the ability to signal for assistance in case of an emergency in an affordable and efficient way”.

Satellite technology is transforming lone worker safety in the forestry and natural resource sectors by ensuring no worker is ever without access to a vital line of communications – whether on or off the cellular grid. In the process it has helped companies streamline their operations and improve worker productivity by providing reliable access to voice and data networks, using a variety of affordable, flexible satellite solutions. Companies now have a wide range of choices when it comes to proactively meeting provincial mandates for lone worker safety and check-in. The technology is here. It’s up to forestry companies to use it.


Jim Mandala is vice-president and general manager of Globalstar Canada Satellite Co., a leading provider of satellite voice and data services. Jim can be reached by email at JMandala@globalstar.ca.

Courtesy of the Logging & Sawmilling Journal - December/January 2017

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FWSN Media Room

The Forest Worker Safety Network regularly reviews logging videos on YouTube.com. The video below is our feature pick for this month. Click the video screen if you wish to enlarge the video for viewing on in new browser window on the Youtube.com website.  [top]

In the Clear In the Dryland Sort -SAFER.ca

This month, a video about being at the right place at the right time, every time, at the dryland sort. Dryland log sorts present many potential hazardous conditions, it important that the dryland sort work is planned to ensure that the it can be conducted safely and that solid procedures are developed and followed. There must be constant communication between the machine operators and ground crew to ensure there is safe separation. It is important that all potential risks are assessed and reassessed as the workplace changes. Situational awareness is very important and dryland sort ground crews must work as a unit. Keeping the dryland sort clean is important and special emphasis needs to be put on the potential for chunks and logs to move or be projected air-borne if a wheel-loader bumps or runs over dryland sort logs, log chunks, or debris. The number-one take away is that work of the machine operators and ground personnel in the dryland sort must be planned with effective procedures to ensure the work can be conducted safely and that everyone must assess their workplace and reassess as things change. Courtesy of the SAFER.ca YouTube Channel.

Something to say about this video? Email us at: info@fwsn.org.

Safe Workplaces... Our Right, Our Responsibility

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FWSN Tailgate Talk

Safe Workplaces... Our Right, Our Responsibility

Day of Mourning - April 28th

 

Forest Worker Safety Network

The Forest Workers Safety Network (FWSN) is an initiative of United Steelworkers (USW) District 3, which represents over 20,000 forest workers in British Columbia.

In light of rising forest industry fatalities and injuries, the FWSN has been formed as a response to a demand for a worker-focused information and networking system. The FWSN is available to all BC forest workers, at no cost, whether or not they are members of the United Steelworkers (USW) union.

The FWSN is initiating its activities by disseminating information developed for BC Coastal loggers and woodlands employees, from stump to dump and beyond. We are also collecting information on safety issues in the sector and on urgent and pressing issues that groups of workers and individuals face. We provide general health and safety information and information on the USW’s ongoing efforts to stop needless fatalities and injuries.

There will be regular communications for all workers who sign up.

Join the Forest Workers Safety Network today!  [back to top]

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Forest Workers Safety Network - 2009