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Forestry High Risk Strategy

The 2018-2020 Forestry High Risk Strategy (HRS) is a comprehensive prevention strategy to address workplace safety in forestry operations. The intent of the Forestry HRS is to execute focused and impactful inspectional activity in those areas of the timber harvesting segment that represent exceptional risk to workers.

Identified high risk work activities typically fall into five areas of operations:

  • Manual tree falling
  • Log transportation
  • Cable yarding
  • Mechanized harvesting
  • Silviculture

In addition to the five main focus areas, which are based on different harvest phases and related activities, emergency response planning (ERP) has also been identified as a critical target area for the Forestry HRS because of a number of serious ERP failures documented at forestry workplaces through incident investigations.

Due to the continuing high injury rate in hand falling, a dedicated inspection team is focused on employers carrying out manual tree falling.

The 2018-2020 Forestry HRS will also aim to address hearing loss prevention, the risk of phase congestion, and risks associated with construction related roadside debris into its inspectional and outreach activities whenever opportunities arise.


The goals of the 2018-2020 HRS are to:

  • Raise awareness and promote adherence to best practices
  • Reduce the serious injury and fatal injury rates in the top risk exposure categories in forestry operations


  • Because of the seasonal nature of forestry work, an element of seasonal approach is also incorporated into the Forestry HRS. Officers in different regions of the province will continue to have the latitude to shift in their inspectional focus to reflect seasonal variability.
  • Sustained compliance requires the commitment and support of on-site employers as well as those parties with higher-level responsibilities related to proper planning and execution of the work. When repeat or high-risk violations occur, officers will review the roles and activities of all worksite parties to ensure their responsibilities are being fulfilled in a sustained manner.

2019 additional focus

When we developed the 2018–2020 HRS, we recognized that within the three-year time frame we would need to retain flexibility to add additional focus areas. In 2019, the Forestry HRS will include an additional focus on phase congestion as a result of poor phase integration. Phase integration is the practice of incorporating multiple harvesting phases within a single operating area, with multiple contractors working at the same time in the area. Without proper planning, these areas can become overcrowded or jammed, leading to phase congestion. Phase congestion is an industry-wide problem and has resulted in serious injuries and fatalities.

Deliverables and timelines

Activities (2018–2020)


Inspection activities

Manual falling

  • Falling cuts
  • Danger tree windfall assessment and plans
  • Unnecessary brushing practices
  • New faller training programs, new faller safety, and adherence to training requirements
  • Roadside debris endangering workers
  • Phase congestion

Mechanized harvesting on steep slopes with a specific focus upon tethered and traction assist machinery

  • Maintenance workplan and lockout
  • Three-point-contact procedures
  • Steep slope assessment plans
  • Safe operation of traction assist and tethered equipment
  • Phase congestion

Cable yarding

  • Clearing the turn
  • Yarding angles
  • Landing the log
  • Phase congestion

Log transporting

  • Driving and road assessment
  • Loading, offloading, and securing of load
  • Best practices for maintenance work (lockout, access, and egress)
  • Cab guards (bull boards) and seat belt use
  • Three-point-contact procedures

Emergency response planning (ERP)

  • First aid assessment
  • Lack of ERP practice and testing
  • Daily plan for helicopter-only access
  • ERP review: ERPs properly communicated to workers and service providers, and routinely practised through realistic emergency drills


  • ERP elements (as above)
  • Planning and conduction operation
  • Driver training and policies
  • Musculoskeletal injury (MSI) risk assessment
  • MSI program management
  • MSI education of workers
  • Proper planning and integration of silviculture activities with special focus on road access and emergency evacuation

Hearing loss

  • Measure or review noise levels by location and job role, and assess existing mitigation strategies
  • Complete hearing conservation program assessments of existing, new, and young workers to identify exposure areas and risk-control opportunities

Education and outreach

Faller Technical Advisory Committee

  • Act as a point of contact on Forestry HRS manual falling elements with the Faller Technical Advisory Committee

Resources for industry

  • Develop and distribute prevention resources designed to create awareness of the Forestry HRS, and awareness and tools for addressing risk and mechanisms of injury in the Forestry HRS focus areas, assisting with compliance with the OHS Regulation

FIAG activity with Forestry HRS content

  • Facilitate two Forest Industry Advisory Group (FIAG) meetings in support of Forestry HRS content

Updates and results

As part of our strategic initiative to develop measures to assess the effectiveness of prevention activities, we are providing updates of our High Risk Strategies and Industry Initiatives.

Note: To save space in bulleted lists, our update documents may refer to occupational health and safety as OHS. All references to the Act, refer to Part Three of the Workers Compensation Act. Penalties and warning letters reported in updates may have been initiated by inspections in a previous quarter.

Related resources