Forestry is second only to fishing in rankings of national occupational fatality rates and has been recognized consistently as an industry with considerable workplace hazards. Like farming and fishing, logging labor is outdoors in environments where variable terrain, weather extremes, dangerous equipment and long work hours are the rule vs. the exception. However, unlike the farming and fishing sectors, there is relatively little known about worker health, non-traumatic injuries and hazardous exposures that can accumulate and impact workers' health over time, such as musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) or hearing loss. In the ten-year period 1980-1989, data from the National Traumatic Occupational Fatality (NTOF) Surveillance System identified 1,492 logging fatalities. The cost of a work-related forestry fatality is estimated to be about $800,000. While methods of quantifying occupational fatality have been well established, there is a recognized gap in non-fatal traumatic injury surveillance, especially in the agriculture, forestry and fishing (AgFF) industry sector. Many non-fatal injuries in these sectors are not captured by traditional occupational surveillance methods due to reporting exemptions.
Researchers at NEC are addressing this need by testing methods of non-fatal injury surveillance in the logging industry in several Northeast states. This research uses keyword algorithims and work-related variables in pre-hospital care reports combined with hospitalization records to identify such injuries. This project is underway, and results will be published soon.
Facility and Staff
PI: Paul Jenkins (NEC); Research Coordinator: Erika Scott (NEC) The Northeast Center for Occupational Safety and Health in Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing