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Forest Worker Safety Network

fwsn 2008


The Chain Shot Phenomenon
Training At Western Forest Products Logging Video Feature Pick

fwsn 2008

The Chain Shot Phenomenon

When a saw chain breaks, it can scatter linkages into the surrounding area at highs speeds. Most commonly the chain shot moves along the plane of the saw, which can cause a hazard to the operator if the saw is aligned with the cab or the body if using a chainsaw.

What is chain shot?
Chain shot is the high velocity separation and ejection of a piece or pieces of cutting chain from the end of a broken chain in mechanized timber harvesting. Chain shot exposes both machine operators and bystanders to a risk of serious injury or death. Chain shot typically occurs near the drive end of the cutting system but can also come from the bar tip area.

Industry research indicates an average of 1 in 50 broken chains had parts missing that may have been the result of a chain shot event.

How does chain shot occur?
A chain shot consists of two breaks in a chain as demonstrated in the computer simulation. First, the loop of chain breaks and forms two ends. One end moves past the drive sprocket or bar nose and is rapidly accelerated due to a whip-like motion of the chain end. The "whip action" causes the second break releasing small parts at super sonic speed. Chain shot can cause chain parts to be thrown in many directions, especially those along the plane of the saw bar.

How can operators reduce the risk of chain shot?

  • Operators and bystanders must never be in the plane of the bar when the chain is in motion on the bar.

  • Appropriate windshield material must be installed.

  • Chain speed must be 40 m/s (8000 ft/min) or less for .404 pitch Oregon® Harvester chain and 35 m/s (7000 ft/min) or less for 3/4 pitch Oregon® Harvester chain.

  • A chain shot guard should be installed near the drive sprocket.

  • Bystanders must be at least 70 meters (230 ft.) away from the harvester.

  • Chains should be inspected frequently and damaged or cracked chains removed from service.

  • Always use new Oregon® parts when repairing Oregon® chains.

  • Industry groups recommend that chains should be discarded after the second break.

  • Remove all dull and/or worn chains from service.

  • Always sharpen Oregon® chains to Oregon® factory specifications.

  • Maintain proper bar and chain lubrication.

  • Maintain proper chain tension.

  • Replace the drive sprocket when it has visible signs of wear.

Can chain shot and related injuries be eliminated from mechanized timber harvesting and processing?
No!! Operators must always treat an operating chain and bar with the potential danger of a loaded rifle. The following are just a few examples why chain shot can not be eliminated.

Courtesy of the Oregon Saw Chains and Bars.

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WFP is investing in training to ensure the sustainable growth of its business on the coast of BC

The over-riding challenge facing the BC forest industry is replacing an aging workforce in a sector that relies heavily on logging, manufacturing, and forest management professionals to ensure our forests remain a sustainable and thriving resource. Western Forest Products has taken a pro-active step to ensure that they have the skilled people they need to work in their company operations.

Almost two years ago, Western Forest Products launched our Logging Fundamentals Training Program. This 7-week comprehensive program teaches students the fundamentals of logging, providing practical training to work safely, productively and sustainably in a harvesting environment.

Training modules are based on the WorkSafeBC handbooks and form the foundation for theory and practical learning. Students learn to identify and assess hazards, communicate and move safely as they set chokers on logs, rig stumps, buck logs and work safely around equipment. Program graduates become strong candidates for employment in the logging industry.

USW Local 1-1937 recognizes the need to fill a growing labour gap created by the retirement of skilled workers and fully supports WFP’s Logging Fundamentals Training Program. Later on in 2012, the BC Government recognized the first class of graduate students.

BIV Special Report: Learning How to Log for Fun and Profit
Western Forest Products offering paid logging courses to help fill B.C. forest sector’s growing skills shortages

By Jen St. Denis - Business In Vancouver

In a corner of northern Vancouver Island, prospective loggers are learning how to climb trees, set tail blocks and choke logs. The area is called “the playground,” but the training is serious business.

Not only are the students learning how to do a dangerous job safely under the watchful eyes of trainers, they’re being paid by a B.C. forestry company while they complete the seven-week course, with a high likelihood they’ll later be hired.

Western Forest Products (WFP) began offering the seven-week course in September 2012 and has thus far trained 18 students. The company has since hired 14 of those graduates.

“They work a real logging show, and they learn how to do it and how to be safe,” said Dwight Yochim, executive director of the Truck Loggers Association (TLA), who recently toured the program.

The B.C. forestry industry faces looming labour shortages in jobs ranging from millwrights and loggers to truck drivers and equipment operators.

On the B.C. coast, according to the TLA, the sector could soon face a shortfall of 3,400 workers. The Forest Products Association of Canada has calculated that across B.C., forestry will have to find another 15,000 workers by 2020.

Safety has also been a concern this year. Seven workers have died in 2013 while harvesting timber and 10 died last year, a reversal of the reduction in fatal accidents seen from 2009 to 2011, according to the BC Forest Safety Council.

“We’re giving them the foundational skills they need so they can go into the workforce with a good base understanding and a real culture of safety and environmental protection,” said WFP representative Makenzie Leine.

The formal training WFP offers differs from the way loggers usually learn their craft: on the job, in what Leine called an “intense” environment.

The company has seen high demand for the training program: 80 people applied for six training spots for the second course, which wrapped up in April.

WFP only accepts applicants who pass an aptitude test and are looking for a long-term career in the industry. The company also pays the students a training wage for the duration of the course.

“We’ve gone to some job fairs and there’s a lot of excitement from young people,” said Leine. “What it indicates to us is that people still have interest in the forest industry, people still have confidence in the forest industry.”

WFP is working with organizations like the TLA, other forestry companies and the B.C. government to expand the program. The company received funding from the Coast Sustainability Trust to set up the course and worked with the United Steelworkers and WorkSafeBC to develop the curriculum.

Courtesy of Business In Vancouver Magazine.


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]

Hand Falling Second-Growth Timber

There are significant differences between hand falling old growth and second growth timber. WFP Health & Safety Advisor Chris McAllister explains why all stakeholders need to understand what the procedures, hazards and conditions fallers encounter when they are in second growth timber. Video courtesy of

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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!  [top]

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