A private consultant’s “exploratory study” of silvicultural camps reveals lackings in the quality of life provided for in all six camps surveyed. Is there a larger trend here? And if so should camps be certified to minimum standards to avoid being hazards to health and safety as the study suggests?

Silviculture Camps Require Change To Eliminate Threat To Worker Well-Being

An exploratory study of workers in six disparate British Columbia silviculture camps, has revealed camp “quality of life” to be extremely poor. The 2003-2004 study undertaken by Vancouver based EN-CAMP INTERNATIONAL, a multidisciplinary team of camp quality of life planning/evaluation specialists, asked workers to rate camps based on 16 camp quality of life markers. Ratings were ” poor” on even the most basic “quality of life” markers such as “quality of food”, “quality of sleeping of accommodation” and “quality of camp supervision”. Ratings were “very poor” on complex psycho-social markers such as “pride of working in the camp”, “sense of team”, “sense of self-development/self achievement” and “trust between workers”. In essence these workers experienced, little or no pride of working in the camp, little or no sense of being part of a team, little or no sense of self-development/self-achievement and little or no trust between fellow camp residents. The research further revealed (1) that camp workers experienced significant anxiety brought on by a sense of isolation from the rest of society, (2) that the camps did not have effective formal recreation facilities or programs and (3) that drug and alcohol abuse was rampant. While this study has made no attempt to generalize the research results to all silviculture camps in BC it is clear, through the convergence of results from individual camps, that at the very least, many camps are in dire need of “quality of life” changes. To facilitate these changes and to develop camp cultures which have the “capacity” to deal with future “quality of life” threats, objective, independent, “quality of life” evaluation and ongoing monitoring is required. The benefits of implementing such system are significant for both worker “well-being” and forest -company “bottom line”. Assuming that the evaluation and monitoring functions are undertaken by an independent 3rd party, the potential benefits include all of the following: (1) The ability to predict and solve camp quality of life problems before they become significantly destructive and/or expensive. (2) The improvement of the overall “quality of life” for workers. (3) The improvement of the productivity of workers (4) The reduction of camp insurance rates based on perceived increased stability of the camp workforce and the sustainability of the camp. (5) The enhancement of the corporation’s social/ethical profile such that financing will be easier to obtain from banks and potential investors. (6) An increase in corporation sales as a result of being perceived by consumers as a more socially conscientious, ethical employer. As consumers, corporations and governments are becoming more environmentally and socially conscious, the act of ensuring a “good quality of life” for workers in silviculture camps presents forest companies with increased financial opportunities as well as with opportunities to undertake the high moral ground on workforce issues. No longer is mere adherence to near minimum camp health and safety standards an appropriate or prudent strategy for a company. Today these camps are viewed as being indicative of a company’s values and brand, with camp “quality of life” being an expression of a corporation’s standard of doing business. Author – Douglas A. White, Senior Partner EN-CAMP INTERNATIONAL, Phone: (604) 734-0771, E-mail: dawhite-en-camp@telus.net Member – Canadian Institute of Planners – Professional Market Research Society (BC Chapter)