Hazard Summary

Operators of mobile forestry equipment have been seriously or fatally injured when struck by branches, spear-like objects, whipping saplings, or broken winch lines.

Section 26 of the Regulations for Industrial Establishments requires that:

"A machine shall be shielded or guarded so that the product, material being processed or waste stock will not endanger the safety of any worker."

Skidders, forwarders, fellers, and similar machines used for harvesting trees that have been equipped with an operator-protective structure (OPS) shall be maintained to that standard, in accordance with section 25(2)(h) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

An OPS, where provided, shall totally enclose the cab, be solid on the bottom portion and have open screen or glazing on the upper portion. The protective screens shall be made of 6 mm (¼ inch) woven wire mesh or equivalent, and the opening in the screen shall not exceed 45 x 45 mm (1¾ x 1¾ inches). Glazing shall be of a shatterproof material such as Lexan. These parts of the OPS shall be designed to have the minimal adverse effects on visibility and operator comfort.

On machines equipped with cabs or partial enclosures, an emergency exit must be provided on a cab surface other than that which has the main entrance/exit opening. Both the regular and the emergency exits should be capable of being opened from both inside and outside without the use of tools. Vandal locks may be provided on these openings, but they must be unlocked when the machine is in use.

Some models of skidders have proven to be more prone than others to debris entering the cab. Where no OPS is present, solid doors on the lower half of the cab opening have proven to be an effective guard against debris entering the cab from the ground or near ground-level.

Operators must be aware that neither an OPS nor doors can prevent all objects from entering their workspace. They must always operate their machine in a safe manner and, in particular, must be constantly on the lookout for spears and debris.

This resource does not replace the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and its regulations, and should not be used as or considered legal advice. Health and safety inspectors apply the law based on the facts in the workplace.