Dear Colleagues:

This incident was reported by WorkSafeBC here.

Injury: Suspected carbon monoxide poisoning (1 worker)
Industry: Forestry
Core Activity: Tree planting or cone picking
Location: Northern B.C.
Date of Incident: 2022-May

A worker was found unresponsive in their tent after using a wood-burning stove as a heating source inside the tent. The worker was treated for suspected carbon monoxide poisoning by the on-site first aid attendant, then transported to hospital by company emergency vehicle.

Please address your crews regarding this recent bulletin about heating systems in tents. Some of you may have covered this with your crews already, but this can save a life. It is an important topic in view of the unseasonably cold weather this spring.

Workers should be instructed not to use any fuel-burning or combustible heating system inside their tents. Workers living in vans, buses, campers, or other structures should only be using properly engineered heating systems with a fully functional and tested carbon monoxide detector.

In May of 2019, a young woman died in Penticton after trying to stay warm in her tent by using embers wrapped in tinfoil. Although this woman was not a tree planter, the conditions were similar to those faced by workers in planting camps. Carbon monoxide is called the “Silent Killer” because of our inability to detect the gas, and its effects of making people drowsy and drift off to sleep.

Jordan Tesluk
BC SAFE Forestry Advocate