DNR is a founding member of the Logger Safety Initiative which promotes occupational safety in the logging industry. Logging is historically one of Washington’s most hazardous industries -- one where workers, particularly in non-mechanized logging jobs, suffer serious injuries much more often than in any other major industry. Meanwhile, employers struggle to afford accelerating workers' compensation insurance costs. In response, private land owners, logging industry employers, and the Department of Natural Resources along with Department of Labor & Industries formed the Washington State Logger Safety Initiative, a broadbased effort to promote occupational safety, reduce fatalities, and decrease the frequency and severity of workplace injuries in the logging industry.
The following editorial about the Washington State Logger Safety Initiative was published in The Columbian on November 1, 2015:
Goldmark: Safety vital for timber workers
Renewable, beautiful and durable wood is good, for people and our planet. Gentle on the eyes, kind to the feet, wood is one of the greenest building materials around. It uses little energy to process and stores carbon that might otherwise contribute to climate change. Wooden buildings flex in earthquakes. Good-quality wooden furniture can last for centuries. The simple, renewable beauty of wood is unmatched.
While wood makes our lives better, harvesting this sustainable, free-growing resource is not easy for people who work in the woods. There is an unacceptably high human cost, paid by the dozens of workers who every year are injured in accidents on timberlands.
In timber harvesting, falling tree limbs, moving cables, rolling logs, and heavy equipment can crush, maim or kill in an instant. Loggers aren’t the only victims: Families, friends, local health care systems — entire communities — feel the impact when a worker is seriously injured or, worse, killed on the job.
The Evergreen State’s timber industry has a proud heritage that contributed greatly to the prosperity our state enjoys today. However, the future of the timber industry in our state must not only be environmentally sustainable, but protect those who make their living from our forests.
That is why I am committing the Washington State Department of Natural Resources to supporting the Logger Safety Initiative.
Backed by DNR, the Washington Forest Protection Association, Washington Contract Loggers Association, and other industry leaders and landowners, this initiative encourages and rewards voluntary improvements to worker protection and safety.
As manager and steward of more than 3 million acres of working forests, agriculture and grazing lands, DNR is the largest landowner and manager in the state, other than the federal government.
Our responsibilities go beyond managing these lands for wildlife habitat, clean water and sustainable revenue for state trust land beneficiaries. I believe that DNR has a duty to help improve workplace safety for the hardworking professionals whose efforts directly produce more than $200 million in revenue for public schools, hospitals, fire districts and universities each year.
Almost three out of every four logging companies in the state have joined the LSI effort and are improving safety for their employees. I hope by joining them, DNR will encourage other companies to take this important step.
While logging has historically been a dangerous job, it does not have to be that way. Washingtonians should be able to continue using wood in their daily lives, with the knowledge that no one is risking life and limb to get it to them. Placing a premium on worker health and safety is essential to the future of the forestry industry in Washington.