PPE and a Little More

By Patrick Donnelly, WVU Extension—Safety & Health Research Assistant, Timber Safe

You grab a hold of the cable and head down over the bank.

You throw two chain chokers down towards a few trees that need to be drug up.

You get in a dozer to push in some road.

All three scenarios seem nice and simple right? Actually, all three of the above situations resulted in accidents from the minor to the severe. The first wounded was dragging the cable with a pair of gloves on. This operator went to get a better grip on the cable and drove a piece of frayed cable into his palm. I had to pull on the cable to get it out of his hand. That one hurt! Putting on a pair of puncture proofgloves could have easily prevented that.

During the second, had the operator looked at the overhanging branches a little closer, he would not have thrown the chain chokers where he did. They got caught up in the trees and came back and smacked him in the head. A hardhat and being aware of your surroundings could have easily stopped this one from being a “good bump on the head.”

The last scenario was the nastiest. The operator was in the dozer pushing in a new skid road when he hit a small rock bar about 6” high. It bounced him right out of the seat and he smacked his head against the metal roof of the dozer—no padding, just metal! The result was a lingering concussion and a lot of blood. This is easily prevented by putting on your seatbelt and adjusting it correctly.

I am using these three only as simple reminders. I have seen worse and have attended the funerals to that end. My meaning here is not to point fingers at anybody, but to show that sometimes the simplest of PPE or equipment can prevent some of the nastiest of accidents. Take time to look over whatever PPE you need and the seatbelts, brakes, etc. of the equipment you are running and use it! It is there to protect you, and isn’t the ultimate goal to go home safely each night in the same shape you started the day in?