Behind the wheel: Logging industry experts analyze driving hazards

Adrienne Allam

Top 10 root causes of driving hazards in Ontario logging operations

Poster: Top 10 Causes of Driving Hazards in Logging Operations

Driving is a crucial part of many jobs, especially in the logging industry. Whether it’s commuting to the worksite or navigating through forest roads, the risks associated with driving for work are significant.

Recently, workers, supervisors, and employers in the Ontario logging industry gathered for a root cause analysis workshop facilitated by Workplace Safety North (WSN), focusing on the top 10 causes of driving hazards.

“During the workshop, industry experts revisited top risks identified in a previous session – vehicles with mechanical issues, inconsistent on-the-job driver training, and a lack of fit-for-duty program. We did a deep dive into their root causes,” says Adrienne Allam, WSN Health and Safety Specialist and co-facilitator of the workshop alongside colleague Konor Poulin, WSN Health and Safety Specialist.

“The group crafted a risk statement as their guide: Driving to and from work on highway and forest roads can result in injury to workers or the public based on unsafe acts or conditions experienced during travel,” notes Allam.

Top 10 Causes of Driving Hazards in Logging Operations

Driving for work is top health and safety risk

1. Vehicles with mechanical issues and older equipment with poor maintenance

Major concerns include the use of vehicles with mechanical problems and older equipment lacking proper maintenance. Issues such as improper tires, deficient radios, absence of electronic loading devices, vehicle and cab design, and poor housekeeping in trucks contribute to driving risks.

2. Poor safety culture limits support of safe driving programs

A weak safety culture within logging operations limits the effectiveness of a safe driving program. A lack of legal and employer enforcement, along with seasonal drivers and production pressures, make it challenging to build a proper internal responsibility system.

3. Inconsistent on-the-job driver training

Inconsistent competency-based on-the-job driver training poses a significant risk. A standardized training program is required to ensure all drivers are well-prepared for the challenges they may encounter on these unique roads.

4. Lack of fit-for-duty program

A lack of a fit-for-duty program raises concerns about driver fatigue and substance use while operating vehicles. To overcome complacency, it’s important to have a policy addressing health and fitness for the job, including understanding operator responsibility, mentorship, and guidance.

5. Limited standards and communication between firms and the Ministry in charge of maintaining highways

To reduce risks for drivers, logging firms, and the Ministry responsible for highway maintenance, need regular communication about road repair, and snow and brush removal.

6. Inadequate forest road construction and maintenance

Poor road conditions, including poorly managed load check locations, a lack of dust control, signage, brush and snow removal, as well as poor road planning all contribute to the risks faced by drivers on forest roads.

7. Inadequate safe operating procedures for drivers

Having insufficient safe operating procedures for drivers can lead to confusion and potential accidents. Clear guidelines ensure that everyone understands and follows the best practices for safe driving in logging operations. Lack of incident reporting and technological monitoring contribute to the risks.

8. Inexperienced drivers unfamiliar with forest roads

Inexperienced drivers lack awareness about the risks that forest roads pose. Proper training and guidance are essential to help these drivers navigate challenging terrains safely.

9. Pre-shift assessment checklist inconsistently completed

A pre-shift assessment checklist for vehicle and road conditions is an important safety measure. Lack of hazard identification, improper tire maintenance, and lack of process create risks for drivers.

10. Poorly functioning safe driving program

A poorly functioning safe driving program is the result of a weak safety culture. Driver payment by load versus hourly inadvertently encourages rushing and poor driving habits, which undermines the internal responsibility system.

To dive deeper into preventing distracted driving in the workplace, view “Logging Sector Root Cause Analysis Workshop Results and Next Steps,” which offers detailed insights and critical controls.

These root causes were identified through a comprehensive root cause analysis workshop facilitated by Workplace Safety North. Addressing these concerns is essential to ensure the safety of everyone involved in the Ontario logging industry. By implementing effective measures and promoting a robust safety culture, we can reduce the risks associated with driving hazards and create a safer working environment for all.


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