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Forest Worker Safety Network

fwsn 2008


Incident Investigations Should Focus on Change
Phase Congestion: Taking Proper Measures Logging Video Feature Pick

fwsn 2008

It’s important to look beyond blaming an individual because change has a much greater level of safety benefit.

By Susan Main - Speaking of Safety

The right approach to incident investigation – focusing on change not blame – is the way to better safety in future, say the organizers of “Incident Investigations in Health Care and Social Services” presented by WorkSafeBC on Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013 in Richmond, B.C.

I wrote about this approach recently after reading WorkSafeBC’s Incident investigations in health care: Focusing on change instead of blame.

The bulletin is intended for health care workers – but I see how its message can be applicable to others as well. I asked session organizer Jenny Colman to tell me more. She is a Human Factor Specialist/Ergonomist for WorkSafeBC’s Investigation Division, Incident Response Program.

“When incidents are viewed as personal failings, there may be no incident investigation beyond “don’t let that happen again,” she says. “To gain an understanding of why people do what they do there needs to be a thorough and systemic evaluation of the workplace.”

Such an evaluation may uncover systemic problems such as staff shortages, inadequate training, malfunctioning equipment, planning for the work, or the layout of the space.

“If the same set of circumstances are experienced by other workers it’s likely that they would make the same choices and take the same actions,” Colman said. “Ideally the person involved should be encouraged and supported to tell their story of the incident without blame or incrimination so organizations can learn from the event and make effective change in how the work is set up, planned and enacted.”

“It’s important to look beyond blaming an individual because change has a much greater level of safety benefit,” she said. “Taking a reprimand approach will only discourage the reporting of errors and incidents. It doesn’t solve the issues of why they occurred in the first place. Without effective change the same incident could occur again.”

Colman cites The Field Guide to Understanding Human Error – a book by Sidney Dekker, published in 2006 – as a source of ideas.

As I see it, the blame approach is a form of scapegoating workers – which is often a way to shift blame from managerial decisions that no one wants to own. 

Susan Main, a professional writer based in Vancouver, writes the Speaking of Safety blog where she hopes to share the stories of the people behind the scenes of workplace health and safety.

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Phase congestion occurs when one production phase adversely affects another, and worker safety is compromised.

Phase Congestion was identified by industry as a safety concern in 2013. The term “phase congestion” means a situation where different logging phases – such as planning, falling, road construction, production or blasting, etc. -- become bunched up or congested, with an increased risk of negatively affecting the productivity and safety of each phase, putting workers at higher risk of an upset or incident.

With the leadership and support of the Coast Harvesting Advisory Group (CHAG), working groups spent many months analyzing and identifying the root causes of phase congestion and how best to manage it.

To help prime contractors, licensees, contractors and supervisors be aware of Phase Congestion and how to manage it if it occurs, CHAG produced the following materials for broad industry use. They are intended to help ensure every worker goes home safe at the end of the day.

Click here to download poster. (pdf 4.5mb)


For more on phase congestion, visit the BC Forest Safety Councl.

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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.  [back to top]

Faller Safety: It's Everyone's Responsibility

In this hard-hitting video, the risks that Fallers endure everyday on the job are brought into focus. But there are many factors that determine how big a risk is taken. A lack of planning and adequate supervision, and failure to recognize, evaluate, and control hazards — any or all of these can contribute to faller fatalities and serious injuries. This video shows what can happen to a faller in today's industry, and how everyone is responsible for faller safety. Video courtesy of WorkSafeBC.

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Safe Workplaces... Our Right, Our Responsibility

A USW Health & Safety Production - Click to view.
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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