Bookmark and Share
Join Today
Media Room
Info Sheets
Take Action

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.

Click here for your information on your right to refuse unsafe work.

Safe Workplaces... Our Right, Our Responsibility

Click here to download Adobe Acrobat 8.0 for free.

Valid HTML 4.01 Transitional


Forest Worker Safety Network

fwsn 2008


The Producer: Harvey Seymour
Stories of the Past Brought to Light Logging Video Feature Pick

fwsn 2008

Working in the forest industry includes being exposed to high risk when working over water. It's no uncommon that fresh cut timber is sorted and boomed up in sheltered inlets to be readied for transport to local sawmills.

Harvey Seymour is a special guy. October 2016 marks his 50th year working on the booms in Ladysmith, BC at the WFP Burlieth Log Sort. Harvey has had a few bumps and bruises over the years but he's never lost time on the job. He's an inspiration to many of us and when you watch this video, you'll see why.

Sidewinders, pond boats, dozer boats, and log broncs. So many names for such a little tug. Before boom boats existed, log drivers had the dangerous task of walking the logs on the water, sorting them with a pike pole and stacking them at the log lift. Now most of the work is done with a boom boat.

Boom boats were designed to make short work of this precarious job. They crash into and shuffle the logs for hours, herding them into place. But boom boat operation can be dangerous and it's a big achievement for Harvey Seymour to work on the boom with a lost time accident for such a long time - 50 years.

Courtesy of the Western Forest Products YouTube Channel.

Find out more about Stz'uminus First Nation here.

Something to say about this story? Email us at:              [top]

This project, while seeking to preserve the memories of forest pioneers, unearthed many strong feelings from those who toiled in the woods.

Many of our seniors hold precious memories, but as they age these stories become lost. It is the aim of Mosaic of Forestry Memories to collect these stories and present them here. Mosaic of Forestry Memories has tried hard to capture the spirit of each individual, the way they speak, and how they see the forest industry that they spent their lives working in.

Bob Heyes - Mill Worker

I was born in 1936 and started working in the sawmill in 1953. I left in 1992, so I worked in the sawmill for thirty-eight years.

I had just finished high school, and my Father said I wasn’t going to sit around home and live off him, so I had to go out and work! He was a logger, and had gotten banged up a few times, so he told me he preferred that I not go to work in the woods. I had thought of long-shoring, because it was good money, but I would have been ‘on call’ every night of the week. So, I decided to go to work at the mill in Chemainus, which was owned by MacMillan Bloedel. I lived in Ladysmith – it wasn’t too far away, only around seven miles.

I started in the planer mill, and the foremen were Ted Clayton and Jimmy Arbuthnot. One of the first jobs I had was picking up trim ends with a wheelbarrow, and taking them to the conveyor. I decided that I preferred a better job where I made more money. So, they had grading and tallying classes for the lumber, and I passed those tests and became a PLIB (Pacific Lumber Inspection Bureau) inspector. I was still an employee with MacMillan Bloedel because the PLIB inspection was part of the company. Then the company asked me if I wanted to be a Supervisor. I was probably around twenty-four years old, maybe a little older. I enjoyed it, and stayed on as Supervisor until I retired!

After awhile, they asked me if I wanted to work in the sawmill. So, I went down there and worked as a foreman on the ‘green chain’. The green chain is where the lumber comes out of the sawmill, down onto a table, is graded and pulled off into loads according to grades. It is at the end of the sawmilling process. I worked mostly graveyard shift, and from there, I became a Senior Foreman so I had my own crew. The foremen were called the ‘green hats’.

I worked fourteen years at Chemainus, and then I got transferred to Harmac #3 Woodroom, near the Duke Point ferry terminal. I was fortunate, because both mills were with MacMillan Bloedel, so I was able to maintain my seniority. I worked at Harmac for seventeen years in the sawmill division, except for one year when I worked in the pulp mill due to cutbacks. I worked on the Yard Crew during that year at the pulp mill – it was great because I would be outside, and the crew was good. The Yard Crew serviced the whole complex: they would work in the warehouse, deliver stuff back and forth, run the Cat and the Chip Supply, maintain the railway, and clean out the lime kilns, which was a dirty job.

When I first started, the crew ‘got’ me with a practical joke: they greased the inside of my truck… the steering wheel, door, and everything! I went in and washed up, and asked, “So, what does this mean – am I accepted into the Yard Crew now?” I never had a problem after that! They were just testing me to see how I would respond, and it turned out good.

I remember a guy there named Joe who was very ‘pro union’. So one time, he was trying to hook up a bucket to a machine, and I offered to give him a hand. He accepted my help, and then said “I hope no one saw us!” He was afraid that, because I was in management, the union would find out that I had helped him and he would be reprimanded.

One time I helped do a presentation in Toronto on the ‘team’ concept – there were eight of us with about five hundred people attending. The presentation went well, and I talked about the ‘green chain’. During the war, women worked on the ‘green chain’; so in my presentation I said, “That’s when men were men, and women were women.” The place went crazy! So, the presentation turned out very well. Someone asked afterwards, “If everyone does so well, what do they need you for?” My answer to that was, “Well, they do need someone to manage the business, and they need to get paid, so someone has to put their time in.”

When I first went to the sawmill, I didn’t know much about it. I remember we had one sawyer, named Alec, who operated a double cut saw. We used to get different sizes of cut wood, and so I asked him about that one day. So he showed me how it all worked, and I thanked him. He said, “When you come in and talk to me like you just did, I’ll ‘make’ you. But if you come in and give me orders, I’ll screw you up!” So I said, “Okay Alec, you’ve got a deal – let’s ‘make’ me.” My philosophy was: the people I was supervising are the ‘professionals’ of their job – so why should I, as their foreman, come up and tell them how to do their job? Unless they were doing something that was blatantly wrong, I would just leave them alone.

I had the first fatality on my shift at the new Chemainus Mill. We used to have to run the logs out before the weekend. We were just about ready to shut things down, when a young employee fell into the conveyor and died of head injuries. It was very sad.

When I was at Chemainus, we used to have a couple of bowling teams; and when I was at Harmac, we started up a softball tournament with different divisions. We even had a team from Seattle come up! It used to just be a one day a year occasion, and then we changed to a mixed league (slow pitch) which was better. It would be for a weekend, and we would have a dance as well.

The old mill was unprofitable, so they tore it down, and built a new one in 1984 or 1985. There were about four to six hundred people in the old mill, and now at the new mill there are only about a hundred and twenty workers. The new mill is much more efficient – technology has improved things in that there are newer machines that work better. There isn’t a ‘green chain’ anymore, they have a mechanical sorter. It’s come a long way!

I was very fortunate, because my wife didn’t work outside the home, so she stayed home and raised our two children. I liked working the graveyard shift. My son works in the new mill, and he is a paramedic as well.

I can truthfully say that my time in the mill was good. We always had fun together, and we were there for each other. We worked hard, but we also partied hard too– especially during our softball tournaments!

Courtesy of Mosaic of Forestry Memories.


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]

Falling Supervisor Training - Coordination of Phases

This month, a video from the BC Forest Safety Council's Falling Supervisor training course. Watch Certified Falling Supervisor discuss the importance of coordinating falling activities with the different phases of logging operations to keep all the workers safe. Courtesy of BC Forest Safety Council.

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]

home  |  about us  |  contact us  |  worksafebc & you  |  your rights  |  join today  |  media room  |  info sheets
take action  |  resources  |  feedback  |  links  |  terms of use  |  site map  |  return to top

Forest Workers Safety Network - 2009