Evaluating the effectiveness of a logger safety training program.
J Saf Res 2006 Jan; 37(1):53-61
Logger safety training programs are rarely, if ever, evaluated as to their effectiveness in reducing injuries. Workers' compensation claim rates were used to evaluate the effectiveness of a logger safety training program, the West Virginia Loggers' Safety Initiative (LSI). There was no claim rate decline detected in the majority (67%) of companies that participated in all 4 years of the LSI. Furthermore, their rate did not differ from the rest of the WV logging industry that did not participate in the LSI. Worker turnover was significantly related to claim rates; companies with higher turnover of employees had higher claim rates. Companies using feller bunchers to harvest trees at least part of the time had a significantly lower claim rate than companies not using them. Companies that had more inspections per year had lower claim rates. High injury rates persist even in companies that receive safety training; high employee turnover may affect the efficacy of training programs. The logging industry should be encouraged to facilitate the mechanization of logging tasks, to address barriers to employee retention, and to increase the number of in-the-field performance monitoring inspections. Impact on industry There are many states whose logger safety programs include only about 4-8 hours of safe work practices training. These states may look to West Virginia's expanded training program (the LSI) as a model for their own programs. However, the LSI training may not be reaching loggers due to the delay in administering training to new employees and high levels of employee turnover. Regardless of training status, loggers' claim rates decline significantly the longer they work for a company. It may be that high injury rates in the state of West Virginia would be best addressed by finding ways to encourage and facilitate companies to become more mechanized in their harvesting practices, and to increase employee tenure. Increasing the number of yearly performance inspections may also be a venue to reduce claim rates. Future research could investigate in better detail the working conditions of West Virginia loggers and identify barriers to job tenure, particularly for workers whose primary job task is chainsaw operation. A larger-scale study of the effect of performance monitoring inspections on claim rates is also warranted.
Safety-programs; Safety-practices; Training; Logging-workers; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Workers; Work-practices; Employees; Surveillance
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Division of Safety Research, 1095 Willowdale Road, Morgantown, WV 26505-2888, USA
Disease and Injury: Traumatic Injuries
Journal of Safety Research