Logging represents one of the most dangerous occupations in the United States. Usual steep slope logging operation can be divided into four components: falling of the tree stem, yarding the tree stem to the landing, unhooking of the tree stem at the landing, and manufacturing the tree stem into the appropriate log lengths. While log manufacturing has long been overtaken by mechanized equipment, the first three components (i.e., falling, yarding, and unhooking) are still manually performed on steep slopes by timber fallers, choker setters and chasers, the respective most hazardous jobs in logging.
An interdisciplinary team led by the OSU College of Forestry's Forest Engineering, Resources and Management, is investigating ways to decrease on the job hazards. The main goal of this study is to develop guidelines for innovative logging systems that can eliminate or reduce the needs of such high risk manual activities during steep slope logging operations. Four specific aims are proposed, including a (1) demonstration of new mechanized logging systems with industry cooperators; (2) assessment of practical and physiological response of workers during operation; (3) develop design guidelines and criteria for new logging systems; and (4) deliver outreach and educational components to people in the logging occupation. This multi-dimensional project seeks adoption of improved safety practices by the logging industry and development of rules for safe application of mechanized steep slope logging by policy-makers.