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Hazards faced within the lumber industry

The lumber industry’s importance to the Franklin County region cannot be overlooked as the area is home to a number of lumber-related companies and manufacturers. It’s a solid contributor to the region’s economy and will continue to be as suppliers to homebuilding and professional contractors.

As an example, a hardwood-cherry lumber manufacturer recently agreed to take over a long-abandoned factory in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania. The move will eventually lead to more than 40 new jobs in the region with the company’s plan to produce kiln-dried black cherry lumber by January.

Employees in lumber manufacturing and lumberyards, though, routinely face work-related hazards as they use various saws and heavy machinery. This is why it is so important these companies focus on safety awareness and require their workers to wear the proper personal protective equipment such as hard hats, safety goggles and hearing protection.

Some of the more dangerous hazards

Here is a list of some of the most dangerous hazards faced by workers in the lumber-related industry:

  • Operating forklifts: Nearly 100,000 people are injured each year stemming from the misuse of a forklift. Forklifts are commonly used in lumber manufacturing and the lumberyard industry to move materials. Training as to how to properly use a forklift must be a priority in order to minimize accidents and ensure a knowledgeable staff. The forklifts also should be regularly inspected. Operators also should know the weight and dimensions of the loads and whether they can be safely lifted and moved.
  • Lockout/tagout: This refers to a safety measure geared toward ensuring dangerous machines are properly turned off and will not start up again before the maintenance or repair work are completed. There have been a number of accidents in which lumberyard workers have either been injured or killed when the equipment they were repairing suddenly started up.
  • Falls: Lumberyard employees often work at dangerous heights, so it’s important to be familiar with the task and to work in pairs in a “buddy system.”
  • Being struck by objects: Always be aware of your surroundings. A fatality occurred in March at a Franklin County manufacturer of log- and lumber-handling equipment. The teenage employee died after a heavy piece of machinery fell on him.
  • Motor vehicle accidents: These can happen on-site when loading and transporting goods.

Safety training is key for workers in this industry, and it’s important that managers and supervisors make sure to implement such programs.


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