Working in forestry or the lumber industry is consistently one of the most dangerous jobs. Lumber professionals have the highest fatality rates out of any industry most years, and workers can also suffer life-altering injuries in the blink of an eye.
Not everyone who works with lumber has the same amount of risk. The driver transporting lumber out of the worksite will have a different degree of risk than the person operating a lumber mill. Research into the injuries and deaths that occur in the lumber industry makes it clear that two specific sets of job duties have the strongest correlation with significant injuries.
Fellers and foresters are at high risk
Even those outside of the lumber industry can easily understand how fellers get hurt on the job. There is a whole science to controlling the way that a tree comes down when cut, and everything from the internal structure of the wood to the wind can affect what happens. Foresters are also at higher risk on the job site.
Even with skilled and experienced professionals, incidents absolutely can occur that leave people hurt or dead. A tree could fall in the wrong direction. It could bounce after hitting the ground. It could break in the pieces, producing dangerous flying splinters or knock other branches and trees down on nearby workers. Felling professionals account for 28% of the reported occupational accidents in the lumber industry, and foresters were involved in another 16.3% of the reported incidents.
Mechanics and maintenance workers are also at risk
The equipment used in the lumber industry is very risky. From saws to massive machines that help cut, lift and move down trees, there is a lot of machinery used for modern timber harvesting. The individuals who work on the big machinery and the handheld equipment could wind up hurt in any number of ways while performing their jobs.
Other than fellers and foresters, mechanics and maintenance professionals and the lumber industry have the highest risk of injury on the job, accounting for another 13.1% of accidents.
Understanding if your job responsibilities increase your risk can help you stay safe while working a high-risk job. It can also motivate you to seek the workers’ compensation benefits you need if you do get hurt at work.