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Work Conditions: Forest, Conservation, and Logging Workers




Forestry and logging jobs are physically demanding. Workers spend all their time outdoors, sometimes in poor weather and often in isolated areas. The increased use of enclosed machines has decreased some of the discomforts caused by inclement weather. A few lumber camps in Alaska house workers in bunkhouses or company towns. Workers in sparsely populated western States commute long distances between their homes and logging sites. In the more densely populated eastern and southern States, commuting distances are much shorter.

Most logging occupations involve lifting, climbing, and other strenuous activities, although machinery has eliminated some of the heavy labor. Loggers work under unusually hazardous conditions. Falling trees and branches are a constant menace, as are the dangers associated with log-handling operations and the use of sawing equipment, especially delimbing devices. Special care must be taken during strong winds, which can even halt operations. Slippery or muddy ground and hidden roots or vines not only reduce efficiency, but also present a constant danger, especially in the presence of moving vehicles and machinery. Poisonous plants, brambles, insects, snakes, heat, and humidity are minor annoyances. If safety precautions are not taken, the high noise level of sawing and skidding operations over long periods may impair one’s hearing. Experience, the exercise of caution, and the use of proper safety measures and equipment—such as hardhats, eye and ear protection, and safety clothing and boots—are extremely important to avoid injury.

The jobs of forest and conservation workers generally are much less hazardous than those of loggers. It may be necessary for some forestry aides or forest workers to walk long distances through densely wooded areas to do their work.