B.C. Forests Minister Pat Bell is challenging the B.C. forest sector to go an entire year with no workers killed.
Bell issued the challenge last month at the B.C. Truck Loggers Association annual convention and trade show in Victoria. This year is the International Year of the Forest.
“We’ve gone from (an average of) 22 deaths a year to just five in the last two years,” Bell said. “I issued a challenge that … 2011 should be the first death-free year in the forest industry.”
According to the B.C. Coroners Service, between 14 and 45 forestry workers were killed on the job each year between 2002 and 2006. A total of 108 workers were killed over the five-year period.
According to the Coroners Service, log hauling is the most dangerous aspect of the industry — with 25 of the 108 deaths. Manual tree falling had the second-highest death rate with 17 workers killed over five years.
In northern B.C. no workers have been killed in almost two years, he said, which proves it can be done. Between 2002 and 2006, northern B.C. had the highest fatality rate — 46 of 108 workers killed were working in the North.
“It will take a concerted effort on the part of all members in the forest sector. This is going to have to be a ground-up movement,” Bell said. “I did try to pull on the heartstrings, quite frankly.”