There is little knowledge available regarding Australian forestry work safety and accident rates. Machine operators and forestry workers are vital parts of the forestry sector and their health and well-being can greatly impact on their work quality and efficiency. To increase our knowledge of forest workers’ safety this project aimed to analyse the frequency, type and root causes of work accidents which occurred within different forestry activities of five industry partners of Australian Forest Operations Research Alliance over the period from 2004 to 2014. A questionnaire was designed and distributed to the partners to collect the safety incident reports. Total number of work accidents was 470 for a period of 11 years (a rate of 43 accidents per year). Considering the estimated yearly production rates of the industry partners that participated in this project, the accident severity rate was 14.40 accidents per million m3 of harvested wood. The majority of accidents occurred in harvesting operations (37%) and forest management (30.2%). Based on the results 8.1% of the accidents occurred during firefighting and 24.3% of work accidents occurred in other forestry activities. Main root causes of accidents for different types of activities were personal errors such as lack of personal protective equipment, operator error, poor body position and poor techniques applied. Work safety training could be delivered to forestry personnel to minimise accidents caused by personal errors. Back and shoulder (as upper parts of the body) received most injuries. To avoid/reduce muscular damage (such as strain and sprain) the workers should be provided with proper ergonomic training.
Journal of Forest Science / Vol. 62, No. 12, pp.545-552