The BC Forest Safety Council and the Western Silvicultural Contractors Association have announced a three year project to reduce injuries and accidents and improve workplace safety and employment practices in the BC silviculture industry. The announcement made at the WSCA annual conference in Prince George in January will include auditing and pre-qualifying firms and training and certifying key occupations in the silviculture sector. The project will affect tree planting, brushing, weeding, spacing and firefighting crews and companies.

BC Forest Safety Council Announces Training and Certification Program for Treeplanters

Prince George, B.C. – (Jan. 19, 2005) – The British Columbia Forest Safety Council (BCFSC) is introducing a three-year program to reduce injuries and accidents along with improving health and safety practices in the province’s silviculture sector. The BC Safe Silviculture Program will affect treeplanting, brushing, tree-spacing and wildfire fighting contractors and their employees across B.C.

The program includes employee training and certification for key silvicultural occupations along with employer safety prequalification. Audits and reviews will be delivered by the industry itself through an agreement between the BCFSC and the Western Silvicultural Contractors’ Association.

Silviculture work is physically demanding and B.C.’s 6,000 seasonal silviculture workers have one of the highest injury rates in the province. Silviculture work camps and conditions are often rough and remote. This places special demands on employers to provide proper safety supervision, training, planning and equipment. Employers have an added responsibility because approximately half the employees in the sector are young workers who are learning the skills and acquiring the experience needed to worksafely and confidently in B.C.’s forests.

“Planting trees, tending plantations, and fighting wildfires is both challenging and rewarding forest work but we have an unacceptable number of injuries and accidents,” says Chris Akehurst, president of the Western Silvicultural Contractors Association. Training our workers to be more competent, improving supervision and increasing employer compliance with health and safety and workplace regulations will make this a safer and healthier industry.”

The B.C. Safe Silviculture Program is part of the BC Forest Safety Council’s broad commitment to eliminating serious injuries and fatalities in the BC forest sector.

“The signing of this agreement between the BC Forest Safety Council and the WSCA will lead to better workplace attitudes and practices in the silviculture sector,” says Tanner Elton, executive director of the BC Forest Safety Council. “The BC Safe Silviculture Program represents an opportunity for the industry to take the lead in improving the sector’s health and safety performance and increasing the safety and wellness of its hard-working employees.”

A year ago, the BC Forest Safety Task Force released a report and action plan making 21 recommendations to eliminate the unacceptably high number of deaths and serious injuries in British Columbia’s forests. The recommendations of the report included industry and government signing a Health and Safety Accord and forming an industry-owned agency to implement it. The BC Forest Safety Council was formed last summer and recently launched a major safety plan to certify all industrial fallers in British Columbia. The Western Silvicultural Contractors’ Association is a founding member of the Council.

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