Hazard Alert – Finding Safe Routes to and from Camp
Jordan Tesluk, Forestry Safety Advocate
High temperatures have caused flooding, landslides, and avalanches in various parts of British Columbia this spring. These events occur more frequently with extreme weather and can pose significant risks to workers finding their way to bush camps.
The recent highway closures in Cache Creek resulted in multiple groups of workers attempting to follow overland routes identified in Google Maps and several brushes with disaster. In one case, a group of workers nearly slid off a steep wilderness road northwest of Kamloops after having to turn around due to flooding and washouts.
Contractors should communicate with their workers and provide clear instructions for safe travel to the worksite, monitor changes in conditions and road closures, and provide updates to workers through mailing lists or other means. The BC River Forecast Centre can be used to monitor changing conditions and flood warnings: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/environment/air-land-water/water/drought-flooding-dikes-dams/river-forecast-centre
Drive BC provides timely updates on most paved roads and highways, and major backroads routes. It is important to note that not all backroads are monitored, and the map view does not cover all routes: https://drivebc.ca/
Encourage all drivers, including those with personal vehicles, to complete the resource road driving knowledge course with the BC Forest Safety Council: https://www.bcforestsafe.org/resource-road-driver-knowledge-unit/
- Warn workers of road closures that may impact their travel and the best methods of detouring to avoid further risks and congested areas.
- Instruct workers to avoid overland and backroad routes they have never traveled before, and explain that Google Maps may provide outdated, inaccurate, and misleading information.
- Arrange convoys whenever possible, especially when active hauling or other industrial activity is occurring. Consider arranging a radio-escort for latecomers who may not have a radio.
- Inform workers of road conditions leading to camps, including notes regarding washboard, wildlife activity, local traffic, steep grades, dusty or muddy conditions, and other hazards.
- Newer workers, in particular, may be unaware of the dangers that await off the pavement, and should be made aware of precautions, including but not limited to:
- Carry emergency communications devices (such as Garmins or Spots) and have a check-in person that is aware of your route and verifies safe arrival at your final destination.
- Resource roads can be hard on personal vehicles and cause tire or mechanical failures. Be prepared and check your vehicle over closely before and after your voyage.
- Washouts, slides, and avalanches are common during the spring melt. Drive slowly and watch ahead for hazards.
- Carry repair kits, and survival supplies, and ensure spare tires are in good shape.
- Turn back if a route appears unsafe or likely to deteriorate rather than risk getting trapped behind or between flooding, collapsing, or blocked sections of road.
Let’s get everyone to work and back home safely.