Forestry safety gear
Working in forestry can be a hazardous occupation. CLAIRE RENCKEN highlights some of the essential components of personal protective equipment (PPE) for employees in this industry
Logging contractors should provide all logging employees with appropriate PPE for the work to be conducted. Hazards and exposures must be assessed and PPE provided to eliminate or minimise the risk of injury.
Employers must also train employees properly to use, wear, and maintain the equipment. It is ultimately the responsibility of the employer to ensure the equipment is worn and cared for. It should also be a policy of the employer that all visitors to the job site have the proper PPE. Here are some of the essential items needed in this line of work:
1. Helmet with earmuffs, visor and protective glasses
The helmet is designed to protect employees from falling branches and impacts. The visor should cover the whole face to protect against scratches and sawdust spray. Protective glasses provide additional protection for eyes. Earmuffs also protect against harmful loud noises. The inserts for ear muffs will eventually become worn, so it is important that they are replaced regularly.
The plastic in the helmet ages and becomes brittle, mainly as a result of exposure to the sun. For this reason, the helmet should be replaced within five years after the date of manufacture, or no more than three years after removing it from its original packaging.
2. Forestry jacket/shirt
The forestry jacket should provide full upper body coverage, have signal colouring and be ventilated.
3. Protective trousers/chaps
Protective trousers must be fitted with saw protection that meets international standards. The saw protection consists of a lining with several layers of very long fibres that become entangled in the chain of the saw and stop it in a fraction of a second. It is important that the manufacturer’s washing guidelines are followed. If the protective layers become damaged or cut, the trousers must be discarded.
4. Protective boots
The boots should be fitted with protective toe caps, saw protection and deep treaded soles (anti-slip protection) in accordance with international standards.
5. Work gloves
Work gloves should always be worn to protect against cuts, scratches, oils and fuels. Gloves with saw protection in the left hand also provide protection from the saw chain.
6. First aid
A first-aid kit should always be easily accessible and close at hand in the felling zone.
7. Communications equipment in the event of accidents
If an accident occurs, help must be summoned quickly. A whistle and a mobile phone, or radio, should always be carried at the felling site.