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Competence Network Climate Change, Risk Management and Transformation in Forest Ecosystems

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Forest Research Institut Baden-Württemberg (FVA)
Department of forest economics

Wonnhaldestr. 4
D-79100 Freiburg

Tel:  +49 761 4018 231
Fax: +49 761 4018 333

Article

Author(s): Jutta Odenthal-Kahabka
Editorial office: FVA, Germany
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Work Safety when Processing Storm Damaged Timber

Arbeiter bei der Sturmholzaufarbeitung

A danger assessment requires a calm and cool-headed approach

Essentials

  • Duty to provide instruction in accident prevention regulations before processing of storm damaged timber (including for communal workers as well as state foresters from other regions e.g. federal states) and periodic repetitions of the instructions by supervisors.
  • Organisation of special courses and training in the processing of storm damaged timber for state foresters at forestry education centres and through occupational safety specialists. Organisation of corresponding training for communal and private forest owners.
  • Increased number of visits to state gangs by occupational safety specialists, who provide support with words and deeds.
  • Provide mechanical support at motor-manual processing.
  • Higher degree of mechanisation – increased utilisation of mechanical processing techniques.
  • Introduction of a communication and emergency call system, if not already in place. Ensure the possibility of purchase by communities and contractors.
  • Instruction of non-local workers in rescue plans and rescue chains of the local forest office.
  • Urge an increased safety awareness by all parties: courses, practise.
  • If assortment piece rate is used: Change to hourly rate! Monthly wages have now been introduced by the state forest administrations in Baden-Wuerttemberg and Rheinland-Pfalz.

Experiences after "Lothar" in Baden-Wuerttemberg

Besides a broad instruction and training in processing storm damaged timber, the introduction of a so-called "storm-wage" - a non-output-related wage - was the centrepiece of the safety strategy used during the processing of storm damaged timber. This storm wage was created to cope with the special strains and high risks of the work, but also to relieve forest rangers from time-consuming settlement procedures. The usual assortment piece rate did not fulfil these needs. The Ministry for Rural Areas in agreement with the Ministry of Finance agreed to a special wage (time rate) based on the personal average assortment piece wage of the 1999 forest year. The time wage allowed foresters to process storm damaged timber in a calm and cool-headed manner without considering the effect on their income. This allowed enough time in complex situations to visualise the situation, assess the risk and consult colleagues if in doubt. This regulation has been met with broad approval by foresters, even by some employees who earned less than via the usual assortment piece wage.

Rescue chain – Emergency call system

In case of an accident colleagues have to perform first aid. Therefore a first aid kit is provided to every work group.

Call for help:
  • via mobile phone: area code + 19222, alternative "110" or "112" radio band forest: contact manned position (e.g. forest office) local phone: 19222 or 110 resp. 112
What happened?
  • Accident at forest work, rural district XY, forest district XY local location
Where is the emergency?
  • name location as well as number/location of the meeting point, where possible name GPS/UTM coordinates
What injuries?
  • cuts, heavy bleeding
  • unconsciousness, apnoea, head injuries
  • broken bones
  • internal emergencies (heart-attack, heart-circulatory system, insect sting)
  • other diseases
  • back injury (rescue helicopter)
Other important remarks
  • Is technical equipment needed? (Injured person is wedged)
  • difficult /step terrain, mountain rescue service / fire brigade needed for rescue
Await questions from the rescue coordination centre
  • personal details, name, phone number for inquiries
Alert forest ranger / forest office
  • after calling for help, the meeting point must be approached immediately, guide the rescue workers to the injured

Proceeding as a 2-person-group:

  • After first aid and calling for help, the uninjured colleague leaves the accident location and awaits the rescue service (emergency physician and ambulance) at the meeting point. They drive together to the place of accident.

Important: Safety before haste! No overhasty or risky activities!

Alternative report to forest office:

  • The colleague arranges with the forest office for a local colleague / forest ranger to take over the coordination of the arrival of the rescue service. After calling for help, he/she marks the way to the accident location then returns to take care of the injured colleague.
  • A colleague at the forest office (who is familiar with the place) or the forest ranger, drives to the meeting point and guides the rescue service to the last drivable point (e.g. woods cabin, forester’s car). The siren will be turned off at this stop to signal their arrival to the injured and his/her carer.
  • The marking guides the rescue team to the place of accident. To improve orientation it’s advisable to direct them with acoustic signals (whistle) to the place of accident.

Proceeding as a 3-person-group:

  • While one colleague marks the way to the place of accident and provides first aid to the injured (wound treatment, keeping warm, psychological care, correct position), the other colleague calls for help and drives to the agreed meeting point to guide the rescue service to the place of the accident.

Information:

  • The ambulance drives in the forest with the siren on to signal to workers its arrival.
  • If no worker is available as a guide or if the terrain is difficult, it’s possible to indicate the place of accident through a whistle or compressor.
  • Four-wheel-vehicles drive ahead. The emergency physician and his/her equipment are placed in the first car.
  • Turning space is required for the ambulance at the accident location

Rescue plan and rescue map

Rescue plans and rescue maps only work if the following points are kept in mind and if the foresters are aware of the life-saving importance of the rescue plan within the rescue chain.

  • The rescue plan can be created at a forest district-, county- or state level. It needs to be regularly updated and practised by all parties (foresters, main office and rescue coordination centre) at the forest district or forest office level.
  • The rescue plan and -map are displayed in the forester’s cabin. Minimum content: emergency phone number, first aid and rescue facilities as well as the agreed meeting points.
  • Meeting points must be known by foresters off by heart.
  • The nearest meeting point has to be written down in the work instruction. The most important objectives of the rescue plan have to be repeated regularly.
  • Meeting points have to be central points of the forest district and accessible from every point of the surrounding terrain.
  • The responsible rescue coordination centre has to be involved in choosing the meeting points and has to be kept informed about the location of the meeting points. A uniform numbering / labelling is necessary. Include the GPS- / UTM coordinates of the meeting points on the map. In this way the rescue coordination centre will be familiar with the meeting points within its scope.

The following applies for Baden-Wuerttemberg: Due to administrative reform in Baden-Wuerttemberg changes in responsibility might occur. Meeting points within new areas of responsibility may need to be checked and adjusted.

For clarity use coloured copies of the land survey administration topographical map with a scale of 1:50.000.

  • Important: Exchanged, non-local foresters must receive a rescue plan and rescue map as well as an intensive introduction.
  • Contractors (local and non-local) also have to be included in the rescue system.
  • Attention: It might be possible that not every meeting point has mobile phone reception. Therefore check reception and switch to the forest radio channel if necessary.
  • Consider making meeting points at places frequently used by the public (parking sites for hikers, forest playground, BBQ areas etc.) Rescue plans can be displayed on information boards at these places allowing their use by private forest owners as well as hikers and families etc.

General information:

  • No one works alone in the forest.
  • Keep in contact with other people (sight, calling, radio-contact).
  • The nearest meeting point must be named in the work instruction.
  • If an accident occurs do not transport the injured person to the meeting point or to the hospital on your own.
  • During the rescue operation remember: Safety before haste!
  • Late help is better than no help at all. Attach great importance to your own safety!

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