Please note that our website is currently under construction and you may temporarily encounter broken links or missing content.

Western Forestry Contractors’ Association
Rumour Mill RoundUpDate
4 April 2019
Volume 19 Issue 5

Warning:Regarding the many readers who inquired about subscribing to our Latin fact-translated edition of the RoundUpDate—as mentioned in this segment last edition—please note that quod necesse est omnium applicationum Latine.

Protecting Eyes and Planting Trees—Forestry Safety Advocate Offers Some Guidance

WFCA Eye Protection

There may be times when wearing eye protection creates a worse hazard for planters navigating the slash, such as falling or tripping. Protective glasses’ best use requires a proper risk analysis.

In recent years, several tree planting operators have encountered licensees demanding the use of eye protection when planting. In some cases, these requirements are linked to specific site conditions such as recently brushed areas with excessive sharp upturned branches. In other cases, these requirements have been part of a more general company policy for the use of eye protection by all workers regardless of their job or task. Tree planting workers have expressed concerns about the blanket assignment of eye protection for their work and have reported that the use of eye protection interferes with their ability to do their job. In response to these reports, the Forestry Safety Advocate has prepared a briefing to examine the use of eye protection in planting, and to help identify how and when such equipment may be appropriate. This note does not address any specific case or policy regarding eye protection since each situation demands a thorough job-specific risk assessment process that recognizes applicable regulations, guidelines, standards, and best practices. To read the complete alert click here.

Calves Eat the Stuff, Say Ranchers; Another Reason to Rethink Flagging Every Seedling

Calves, like most ruminants, have four-chambered stomachs. If they graze flagging left by loggers or planters it can block the passage between the first two. It’s fatal.

Ranchers lose cattle to predators, drought, floods, pests and wildfire every year. They also lose some to tree planting, especially calves. Since a dead animal’s remains last only a matter of days in the wild area cattle range in B.C., it is hard to find and completely figure how often, and just how, livestock die. But the BC Cattlemen’s Association, based on the evidence ranchers do recover, estimates dozens of young cattle are lost annually because they eat flagging tape left on the ground by planting crews. Although grazing doesn’t happen right after planting, the life expectancy of plastic flagging appears to be a long one. The stuff is available for years for calves to eventually find. The B.C. cattle herd grazes mainly north of Kamloops and west of the Fraser as well as in the East Kootenay, west along Highway 16 and the North East. The WFCA in cooperation with the BCCA is asking planting and logging crews to reduce wherever possible the use of plastic flagging. The WFCA is asking all operators to track the use, waste, and costs of flagging and set goals for reducing the tonnage left on the ground by the whole sector each year across the province. The inventors of Tree Chalk, an inert spray sold to temporarily mark seedlings, are continuing to study any long-term effects of using their product on seedlings. So far tests show the material washes off with no effects on mortality.

Tree Chalk

A temporarily electric blue seedling after being sprayed with Tree Chalk. Some WFCA Contractors are testing the product this spring to see if it really does compete well for visibility among the foliage and as a practical substitute for flagging.

Planters Burning Boxes Leads to Planters Burning Blocks Each Year

Seedling Box Burning

Planters last year watching the unintended consequences of carelessly burning boxes on the block.

According to the Coastal Fire Centre suppression crews are called out more than once each planting season to put out slash fires started by reforestation workers burning seedling boxes. Now that the snow is gone and the light flashy fuels are drying on harvested blocks there will be more person-caused escape fires on reforestation projects this year if history is a reliable predictor. BC Wildfire Service, would like to discourage this preventable situation and is offering some advice to planters, owners and supervisors on how to properly deal with seedling containers here. They also mention that the costs of suppression and losses to the Crown from preventable fires involving open burning can be recovered from those responsible. Those costs can be considerable.

Advice on Effective Emergency Drills Offered by Safety Advocate

Seedling Box Burning

A seriously injured worker has enough to cope with. That’s why emergency responders on a forestry crew need to be capable. To do that they have to practice and drill effectively.


Emergency drills are a critical part of every health and safety program. The difference between a well-prepared and less-prepared crew can save precious minutes when an injured worker is in desperate need of medical care, and can help workers make better decisions when they face the pressure of helping an injured colleague. Drills must be done to satisfy regulatory requirements and to meet SAFE Companies audit standards. However, many crews are unsure of how to set up an effective drill, what to practice, and how to evaluate these exercises. Some crews limit their drills to fire and spill exercises, and have not adequately practiced the various skills that can be critical to responding to medical emergencies in forestry workplaces. An emergency drill guide and toolkit has been assembled to help employers set up and improve their drill program. The guide includes instructions to guide employers through drills and a series of templates to get them started with a graduated set of challenges to test their emergency preparation from basic assistance to complex situations with multiple patients. The guide also includes a tool for evaluating learning outcomes so that emergency systems can be improved. This guide can be downloaded from the WFCA here