According to a recent report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), fatalities among workers in the logging industry increased from 36 in 2009 to 59 in 2010. In its occupational outlook handbook, the Bureau noted that workers harvest thousands of acres of forests each year, and that logging jobs are physically demanding and can be hazardous. Workers in this industry spend most or all of their time outdoors, sometimes in poor weather and often in isolated areas.

Workers in the logging industry face hazards from a variety of sources. They often use heavy machinery to cut and move timber; they may climb trees, which subjects them to fall hazards; and they may be injured when logs shift or topple, posing a crush hazard.

Falling trees also may hit overhead power line and telephone poles, resulting in erratic falls, fires or entanglement. About 65 percent of logging fatalities are a result of being struck by falling objects, almost all of which are trees and logs. Other fatalities are chalked up to non-roadway vehicular accidents involving skidders and tractors.

According to a report titled “Logging is Perilous Work,” prepared for the BLS by Eric F. Sygnatur, “Logging injuries that do not result in a fatality but require time away from work to recuperate most often occur to the trunk of the body and the lower extremities. In 1996, the most recent year for which data are available, there were an estimated 2,136 cases involving time away from work. About half of the non-fatal injuries in 1996 were caused by events such as being struck or crushed, followed by falls, which accounted for about one-quarter.”

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