Certification and injury risk in tree fallers

Manual tree faller injuries per 10,000,000 m3 of wood, Coast Forest Region, 1997-2010

In brief

  • Manual tree fallers have the highest overall injury rate and the highest serious injury rate (amputations, fractures, fatalities) of all occupational groups in BC.
  • In an effort to prevent injuries and fatalities, WorkSafeBC, the BC Forest Safety Council, and other stakeholders introduced a faller certification program. By 2006, all manual tree fallers in BC were required to obtain a safe work practices certificate either through extensive training and examination for new workers, or examination alone for experienced workers.
  • We used workers’ compensation data and certification registry data to examine (1) injury trends among manual tree fallers and (2) the effect of certification on individual injury risk.
  • We found that the rate of injuries among tree fallers declined between 2003 and 2010.
  • However, we found that certification was not associated with a reduction in individual injury risk.
  • In the quarter prior to certification, injury risk dropped slightly. This may be due to alteration in work practices in preparation for certification.
  • In the quarters post-certification, injury risk increased slightly. This may be due to a jump in reporting.
  • We also found a greater risk of injury for specific groups of fallers: young workers, those with previous claims, those with advanced certification, and those who worked during periods of high unemployment.

Related publications

Prevention in dangerous industries: does safety certification prevent tree-faller injuries?

Journal article
McLeod C, Sarkany D, Davies H, Lyons K, Koehoorn M.
Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health. 2015 Sep 1;41(5):478-85.

Certification in hazardous industries: an evaluation of the British Columbia Faller Training Standard

Master’s thesis
Sarkany D. Vancouver (BC): University of British Columbia; 2011.

Contact: Chris McLeod

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