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WFP Hazard Alert
Click here to view the WFP Hazard Alert.

Click here to view the 2005 Stop The Killing: BC Forest Fatalty Summit video.

WorkSafe BC & You - Assistance with filling out claim forms, reporting unsfae workplaces, and getting a WorkSafe BC Inspector to your worksite.

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Safe Workplaces... Our Right, Our Responsibility

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Forest Worker Safety Network

fwsn 2008


FWSN Examines IMIRP Tool Kits for Log Loader
Workers Compensation Systems Protect Against Law Suits Logging Video Feature Pick

fwsn 2008

IMIRP Common Sawmill Industry Job Ergonomic Tool Kits

In this installment, invites visitors to examine the IMIRP Ergonomic Tool Kit for Log Loader

The Log Loader Operators typically use models from one of two manufacturers, either a Wagner or a Letourneau. The responsibilities of teh Log Loader Operator may include unloading logging trucks, sorting logs in the logyard, filling the sawmill infeed decks, and manually breaking bundle cables with a sledge hammer. Operating a Log Loader requires the use of a steering wheel, toggle switches, joysticks, levers, and foot pedals. A Log Loader must stay alert at all times when operating mobile equipment and be aware of other moving vehicles and stationary objects, and pedestrians in the logyard. 

What is IMIRP?

In 1997, WorkSafeBC (formerly the Worker’s Compensation Board), the Council of Forest Industries (COFI), and the Industrial Wood and Allied Workers of Canada (IWA-Canada) found common interest in reducing workplace injuries suffered in the forest industry – specifically in provincial sawmills. As a result of this partnering, the Industrial Musculoskeletal Injury Reduction Program Society (IMIRP) was formed and the society jointly produced a unique industry-wide approach to the reduction of musculoskeletal injuries in BC sawmills.

IMIRP evaluated 106 common sawmill industry jobs and developed a series of 66 “Tool Kits” that specifically deal with reducing injuries from an ergonomic perspective. The IMIRP Tool Kits provided the foundation for a sawmill ergonomic program and were designed for implementation through the Joint Health and Safety Committee at the plant level. The previously featured Madill 124 Grapple Yarder video brings workplace ergonomics back under the bright light of injury prevention and plans to focus that light on sawmill ergonomics in upcoming website updates.

Sadly, the IMIRP program fell on hard times and the society no longer exists. But will take a close look at both the “nuts and bolts” of injury prevention through ergonomic workplace design and the work done by IMIRP by examining some of the Common Sawmill Industry Job Tool Kits that were offered to the sawmill industry 10 years ago. will post IMIRP Tool Kits on this website over the coming months so members and visitors can decide for themselves if ergonomic considerations could play a part in their workplace occupational healthy and safety programs. 

What is Ergonomics?

Ergonomics is not something that most forest workers know alot about. In fact, many forest workers have never even heard of the field of ergonomic study. For those people, the field of ergonomics can be described as a scientific discipline that seeks to understand and improve human interactions with products, equipment, environments and systems – equipment being the key aspect in the Madill video mentioned above. While the field of ergonomics aims to develop and apply knowledge and techniques to optimize equipment performance, the main purpose of ergonomics is to protect the health, safety and well-being of individuals operating equipment and/or completing repetitive work tasks. So it’s important for equipment manufacturers to develop sound ergonomic controls for the operators of their equipment and it’s equally important that employers develop sound work procedures for employees as they complete the responsibilities assigned to them.

How does all this come to rest on It falls within the scope of workplace injury prevention and the finds the subject matter appropriate enough to pass onto its members. FWSN feels that workplace ergonomics is something that forest workers might like to explore in an effort to gain a better understanding of the field of study for themselves and/or for their own workplace.

Click here for IMIRP Implementation Guide in pdf format.
Click here for IMIRP Body Manual in pdf format.
Click here for IMIRP General Risk Factor Solutions Manual in pdf format.      [top]

Logging Railroad Train Crew - Lake Cowichan

British Columbians didn’t get a no fault system until January 1, 1917

Our current day Workers Compensation system in British Columbia was set up to protect employers from expensive lawsuits. As the labour movement began to grow in the early 1900s, it assisted workers in their individual legal actions against employers. The breakthrough results were that workers began to win more and larger civil lawsuits against their bosses.

British Columbians didn’t get a no fault system until January 1, 1917 – after Ontario and Manitoba had their system in place. That meant neither the employer or the employee could sue and that compensation would be paid.

In 1902, during the third minority government in five years, and with the balance of power in his grasp, BC Socialist Party MLA JW Hawthornthwaite, backed by his one other party colleague Parker Williams, introduced the Worker’s Compensation Act, which was virtually a word for word takeoff on the Workmen’s Compensation Act that Great Britain introduced five years earlier – in 1897.

Fallers and buckers circa. 1900The hook was that there was a legal onus on workers to prove employer negligence for their injuries and the maximum benefits that could be paid were capped at $1,500. Forest industry employers successfully fought to have forest workers exempted from coverage under the 1902 act. It applied to miners, transport and factory workers – but not to the forest industry, where the carnage was growing.

For another 15 years, forest workers continued to be on their own. Most would never proceed with a case against their employers. An injured logger or mill worker would be left to fend for themselves. Many became destitute. It wasn’t until the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in 1912 that dependents of injured BC workers – wherever they were in the world – could sue employers for a loved one’s death and successfully receive damages. That raised the stakes for forest industry employers who faced a pool of people who could sue them and win. In response the forest industry’s hiring practices increasingly focused on hiring single men from faraway countries.

Against a background of economic recession and civil unrest, the BC government formed a Royal Commission on Labour between 1912, which spawned a Committee of Investigation on Workmen’s Compensation between 1915-16. By May of 1916 the Workmen’s Compensation Act was introduced to the BC Legislature.

By 1932 seventeen forest companies took the WCB to court, alleging the board was negligent in how it levied assessments against the industry. Fortunately they lost. Had the forest companies won they could have put the fledgling WCB system into jeopardy.

The no fault WCB system we know today in Canada stems back to 1910 in Ontario when Justice William Ralph Meredith (the leader of the Ontario Conservative Party for a 16-year period in the late 1800s) issued a royal commission report on workers compensation in the province. Meredith had been appointed as a one-man commission on laws related to the liability of employers in relation to the compensation of injury employees. He issued the report in 1913, two years before his recommended changes became law.

High Rigger - Lake CowichanCanada was trailing Western European countries and even the United States in workers compensation reforms. Meredith traveled to Belgium, England, France and Germany and the USA, where he focused on Ohio and Washington states’ compensation systems. Germany was the first European nation to run a state run insurance system, funded by both employers and workers.

In Canada Justice Meredith faced the Canadian Manufacturer’s Association in Ontario, which wanted workers to pay part of the assessments for a WCB system. Employers fought compensation for workers if a worker was injured due to his “own serious or willful misconduct…”

When Meredith issued his report in 1913, it called for collective liability among employers, a no fault insurance system, independent assessments and freedom from political influence – something that is a far cry from reality, even today. Wrote Meredith: “In these days of social and industrial unrest it is, in my judgment, of the gravest importance of the community that every proven injustice to any sector or class resulting from bad or unfair laws be removed”.[top]

FWSN Media Room

The Forest Worker Safety Network regularly reviews logging videos on The video below is our feature pick for this month. Click the video screen if you wish to enlarge the video for viewing on in new browser window on the website.  [top]

Logging Railroad Part 1 - Video by Film-maker Dylan Winters

Film-maker Dylan Winters visited an integrated logging operation on Vancouver Island a few years ago and documented much of the harvesting in that operation. Here is a feature that examines one of the last logging railroads on the coast of BC. The rail line was located on the north end of Vancouver Island in Western Forest Products Englewood Logging Division. Click here for Logging Railroad Part 2.

Something to say about this video? Email us at:

Safe Workplaces... Our Right, Our Responsibility

A USW Health & Safety Production - Click to view.
USW OH&S Video/a>

FWSN Tailgate Talk

Safe Workplaces... Our Right, Our Responsibility

Day of Mourning - April 28th


Forest Worker Safety Network

The Forest Workers Safety Network (FWSN) is an initiative of United Steelworkers (USW) District 3, which represents over 20,000 forest workers in British Columbia.

In light of rising forest industry fatalities and injuries, the FWSN has been formed as a response to a demand for a worker-focused information and networking system. The FWSN is available to all BC forest workers, at no cost, whether or not they are members of the United Steelworkers (USW) union.

The FWSN is initiating its activities by disseminating information developed for BC Coastal loggers and woodlands employees, from stump to dump and beyond. We are also collecting information on safety issues in the sector and on urgent and pressing issues that groups of workers and individuals face. We provide general health and safety information and information on the USW’s ongoing efforts to stop needless fatalities and injuries.

There will be regular communications for all workers who sign up.

Join the Forest Workers Safety Network today!  [back to top]

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Forest Workers Safety Network - 2009