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Building Safety Culture Takes Commitment, Communication

From the ‘People Power’ column in Timber Harvesting magazine

By: Wendy Farrand, Owner of WFarrand Consulting

They say “culture eats strategy for breakfast,” which means a logging contractor may have the best business strategy in the world, but if the culture is weak or corrupt, it can destroy strategy in a heartbeat. So, if you have a low bar for what your business stands for, or how employees interact on the job, most certainly your crews are not producing at their maximum potential.

Leaders in the woods should not leave culture to chance. Company culture is more important now than ever. Focusing on culture can improve business relations inside and outside of your business. From the inside, if you put culture first, it will have a positive impact on morale, production, communication and turnover. From the outside, a strong balanced culture can attract the best operators and support staff into your business.

Culture is important in any type of business, but for those who work to move the wood, it’s more important than ever. A strong ethical culture can help set the bar for how the public views the industry we love, which always seems to be under a tightly focused microscope.

What Is Culture?

The culture of a company usually reflects the owner’s ideas for what he or she sees their company standing for. Stated in the values the company wants to uphold and reinforced by the mission statement, a company’s culture lets the world know how they will be conducting business. It’s often considered a company’s personality. Culture can propel a business forward, or hold a business back from reaching its maximum potential. It’s another one of those intangible things that consists of elements invisible to the human eye. So yes, in the woods your crew has a culture, and if you haven’t been paying attention to that culture, it may be working against your business strategy.

Culture sets the standard for how employees interact with each other. A culture where crew members feel criticized can breed secrecy. When dealing with expensive equipment and extremely dangerous situations the last thing you want in the woods is secrecy. So in the logging industry a company’s culture may eat strategy for breakfast, right after it devours your employees for a midnight snack. Respect for safety is one element to building a strong culture within a logging company.

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Mid-South Forestry Equipment Show Brings Appealing Blend

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From the September 2018 issue of Southern Loggin’ Times magazine.

Looking for a skidder, loader, cutter, sawhead, processor, chipper, mulcher or delimber? Considering a different tire brand? In the market for a truck, trailer or lowboy? Shopping for insurance? Interested in a loader or skidder contest or continuing education opportunities? Want to help support Log-A-Load for Kids? Hungering for some of the South’s best fried catfish and fixings? Want a shot at winning two $1,000 cash drawings? Craving for some entertainment? Looking for activities to entertain the kids? Want to buy a unique carving made by a chain saw artist? Interested in getting the autograph of Swamp Logger Bobby Goodson?

You’ll find all these opportunities and more at the 16th biennial Mid-South Forestry Equipment Show, set for September 21-22 at Mississippi State University’s John W. Starr Memorial Forest and Charles E. Burkhardt Pavilion & Site near Starkville, Mississippi (state highway 25 south). Most of these opportunities are available for the low $25 admission that’s good for both days. Spouses not business-active and children under 18 do not have to pay but are required to register.

Since its founding in the early ‘80s, the family-friendly event has become the South’s most popular live/static forest-focused venue, thanks to its blend of the latest equipment, technology and services; continuing education sessions for loggers and foresters; crucial support from Mississippi State University; cash door prizes; various contests; children’s activities; delicious meals prepared on site (Saturday); and tie-in meeting of the Mississippi Loggers Assn. (Friday night).

Approximately 90 exhibitors will demonstrate or display some 130 product brands and types of services, while overall two-day attendance is expected to again approach 7,000, according to Misty Booth, Show Manager.

Mid-South will again offer continuing education tent and field classes for loggers and foresters. Loggers can earn up to 11 hours in category 1 by participating and can receive up to six hours of category 2 credit (3 hours each day) simply by attending the show. Foresters can earn up to 9 hours in category I-CF. All sessions begin each day at 9 a.m. and change on the hour. More information will be available at the show registration area.

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New Phloem App Lets Loggers Track Trucking

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From the July/August 2018 issue of Timber Harvesting magazine.

The new Phloem mobile app allows loggers to track loads of timber from the woods to the mills, provide wait times at mill scale houses and allow users to report any issues encountered at mills. Developed by Savannah, Ga.-based forester and 30-year industry veteran Dean McCraw, Phloem (pronounced flow-um) is a community-based app that allows for real-time tracking and information sharing.

“Truck drivers can use Phloem to know what’s happening at the mills in real time and they can avoid problem areas,” McCraw says. He also hopes to combat timber theft by eliminating double weighing or falsifying timber origin information. Within the app, data is attached to the origin point of timber and with only one set of data per load there’s no way to forge multiple records or data.

Phloem is designed as a community app, allowing users to share real time information on the mills they utilize. It works best when more people are part of the community, feeding the app with information about turnaround times and mill delays that is then shared with the rest of the community. (This is similar to the Gas Buddy app that helps people find the lowest-price gas stations based on information provided by other users in the app’s community.)

A truck driver (or loader operator, foreman, company owner, etc.) selects the mills they deliver to, essentially signing up for alerts about those mills from others who deliver there as well. You can then select which mill you’re planning to haul a load before the truck ever leaves the woods. Even if you’re deep in the woods and your phone has no cellular service, the app stores the information until the phone connects. You can then put the smart phone away—no phone use while driving—because Phloem will track the trip to the mill and detect when the driver reaches the scales. The app then automatically starts keeping track of the turnaround time, ending once the truck returns to the scales. “At no time does the app require user input while the truck is in motion,” McCraw says. Even if the mill is holding trucks outside the scales, the app will detect it from within a set distance and will ask the driver if he (or she) is waiting. The driver indicates yes, and it starts calculating turnaround time from that point (but only if GPS tells the app that it is close to the scale house for a period of time, so no one can really lie about it).

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ALC: Loggers Working For Loggers

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By: Danny Dructor, Executive Vice President of the American Loggers Council

About once a year we like to remind loggers and log haulers why they should, if not already, be involved with a state and/or regional association representing loggers and log haulers. Perhaps the biggest reason can be found in the question, “If loggers are not representing the best interests of the timber harvesting profession, then who is?”

When you step back and look at some of the benefits that state and regional associations have worked on with regard to the political and working landscapes, you can’t help but wonder where our industry might be if you did not have these organizations working for you.

Let’s start with an issue that brought many of our associations together, worker’s compensation insurance. Many state associations have successfully petitioned their state insurance boards to create a tiered structure for logging insurance rates based on mechanized versus non-mechanized operations.

Let’s talk about truck weights. Many state and regional associations have experienced an increase in gross truck weights on state and county roads as a direct result of having their associations lobby their respective legislative bodies to allow tolerances above the 80,000 pound gross weight limit found on Interstates. Why? Simply because raw forest products are an agriculture commodity subject to many variances in weight, both physical and weather related.

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Team Safe Trucking Releasing 30 Training Modules In 2018

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Team Safe Trucking has been working on developing a Forestry Transportation Training Program for Forestry Transportation professionals since 2015. This year the organization has hired Miranda Gowell, a Safety Director from Maine. Miranda has been working on the development of a curriculum alongside Jeremiah O’Donovan, Team Safe Trucking’s Executive Director and the Team Safe Trucking Executive Committee: Mike Macedo, Danny Dructor, Joanne Reese, Keith Biggs, Jimmie Locklear, John Lemire, Scott Barrett, Richard Meyer, Richard Schwab.

Jeremiah O’Donovan recently announced that the Team Safe training curriculum has been developed with three tracks for the online training: Forestry Transportation Owners (FTO), Forestry Transportation Drivers (FTD) and Forestry Transportation Safety Professionals (FTSP). The curriculum includes 30 class offerings and each class covers a specific topic. The classes will range in length from 15-30 minutes. Each training track will be approximately six to seven hours of forestry transportation industry training. After completing each class, a certificate will be issued to the student for that topic. There will be quizzes following each training class, which can be downloaded and saved to document the student’s completion of the training session. When Owners, Drivers and Safety Professionals complete their training tracks, they will receive a picture ID card certifying the individual as either FTO, FTD or FTSP.

Team Safe Trucking’s online training platform has the unique capacity to store and print each student training records at any time after completion of a class. Prospective employers can pay an annual due to Team Safe Trucking to have access to training records. Prospective employers may request training records from Team Safe for prospective drivers.

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Mindfulness Holds Safety Initiatives In Place

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From the ‘People Power’ column in Timber Harvesting magazine

By: Wendy Farrand, Owner of WFarrand Consulting

There are many things that help strengthen safety in the woods, including PPE, bright colored vests, chaps, separation of duties, eye contact, meetings, best practices, and lockout-tagout procedures. All of these and more are vital to creating a safe work environment and combating complacency.

Even so, one of the most important tools loggers have when it comes to safety is that beautiful gem that fits snuggly under a hardhat, the brain. Utilizing that tool effectively can make the difference between life and death.

Mindfulness is an activity that simply means placing one’s attention squarely on the present, in the moment, and the immediate surroundings. It’s a very hard thing to do in the best of circumstances, let alone under the stressful work environment loggers endure. Regulations, fuel prices, payments, lining up jobs and quotas can pull your thoughts out of the moment and into dangerous distraction.

As you read this, stop and make yourself aware of your immediate surroundings. Become mindful: Clear your head of the chatter, the future, the past, kids, family members and bills to pay. Be present in the sound and the light and the activity around you. You may hear a car going by or a bird calling out—sounds you most likely wouldn’t notice during the most hectic parts of your day.

It’s not an easy thing to do, is it? Our minds are swirling with all sorts of information that takes us out of the present, but mindfulness can grow stronger the more you do it.

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Risk Watch: Let’s Move To Fix Trucking Problems

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By: Jimmie Locklear, Forestry Mutual Insurance Co., Raleigh, North Carolina
This article appeared in the Risk Watch column of the March/April 2018 issue of Timber Harvesting magazine.

After two years of traveling across the country attempting to create a heightened awareness of the difficulties facing the forest industry’s log-chip transportation segment, one thing has become very clear: lots of people still don’t get it. Several years ago, I was a logger and small fleet owner facing some of the challenges log truck owners face today, and I didn’t get it either.

I have compassion for loggers and log truckers and am always willing to take time to hear their concerns. Unfortunately, compassion is not a solution. It’s going to take “straight talk” and corrective action by the entire forest products industry to bring about real improvement in terms of safety, compliance, profitability and sustainability.

Let’s face it, numbers don’t lie and facts do matter. The fact is many insurance companies failed to properly underwrite log truck risk over the last 20 years. Premiums where artificially low largely due to aggressive competition among insurance carriers, and that benefitted loggers and log truckers. Premiums dropped significantly almost every year at renewal for many.

At the same time, claims costs were rising drastically. Increases in truck-trailer values, medical treatment-compensation costs and legal action settlements far overshot expectations. This “shocked” commercial truck insurance carriers, resulting in six continuous years of losses. Many of you may remember the FRAM oil filters commercial slogan of years ago: “You can pay me now, or pay me later.” Well, we are now in the “pay me later” period.

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Machine Upkeep Archive: Operator Diligence Is Good Insurance

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By: David Sikorsky, Product Support Specialist, Caterpillar Forest Products

When machine components fail, often the cause can be traced to operator failure. With some regularity, I have seen inadequate lubrication, exhaustion of lubricant or contamination as the most common problems. All can easily prevented by due diligence on the operator’s part.

Lubricant doesn’t disappear into thin air, and while some leaks are the result of catastrophic failures that allow immediate loss of all lubricant, most happen over time. Careful inspection of any machine can prevent downtime and reduce operating costs. These inspections should be performed daily.

The first step should occur at the end of the previous day when the machine is stopped. Always try to park on a level, clear area so that the entire unit can be visually inspected. Sight glasses and dipsticks are calibrated for a level machine, so readings will be inaccurate if it is parked on a slope.

Before climbing on the machine, walk slowly around it. See that pins and their retainers are in place. Look at all hydraulic cylinders and attachments for oil trails. Remember that even a minor hydraulic leak that allows fluid to escape also lets dirt in. Look under the machine for fluids that may have leaked out since last operation. Because porous soil underneath the machine may absorb a lot of fluid, it is more important to look for wet areas and drips on the machine. Pay special attention to rims and tires on wheel-type units and sprockets and final drives on track-type machines. Even small amounts of oil (especially if it was clean the day before) should signal the need to check the oil level of the component.

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Used Equipment Opportunities & Challenges

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By: Tom Hirt, President and Owner of FSK Equipment & Supply, Inc., McKinney, Texas

In my equipment career that has spanned more than 40 years, I have interacted with loggers and small business contractors—all great people—around the world. This has been key to my understanding of the many opportunities and challenges that exist in the purchasing and/or selling of used equipment.

My company has focused on the used equipment market since 2007 and I have learned much about the pitfalls that exist when individual owners enter this ‘hazardous world’ on an occasional basis. I will try to highlight some of the more critical issues in this article.

Here are some answers I get when I ask owners why they want to sell equipment themselves:

—    “I am not trading, so the only way to maximize value is to sell it myself.”
—    “My dealer won’t give me what it’s worth to me.”
—    “I need to sell it fast and my dealer or broker won’t make as much effort as I will.”
—    “I know as much about equipment as anyone, so I can sell it just as well as any dealer or broker.”
—    “I don’t want anyone else to know I’m selling some of my stuff!”

Here are some reasons why you should consider enlisting sales help:

—    Specialists will have more contacts and will advertise your machines on websites and use other media.
—    You work long hours as it is. Do you want to put your phone number in front of thousands of people and receive calls at all hours?
—    If you find a buyer, are you prepared to document the sale properly to avoid any legal issues or conflicts after the sale?

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Machine Upkeep Archive: Safety Walk-Around

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By: Garrett Ginglen, Caterpillar Customer Safety Services

Machine upkeep isn’t just about ensuring that your forestry equipment is performing at peak efficiency. Even more important is keeping your machines in top condition so your operators will be safe. A machine walk-around at the beginning of every shift, followed by any repairs or cleaning, is an important safety, as well as maintenance, step.

Think of a safety walk-around inspection in three levels: ground level, machine level and finally the operator cab. You are looking for anything on the machine that might be damaged, loose, missing or faulty in some way. A good habit to get into is to always start the walk-around at the same place.

Picture a skidder for this step-by-step safety walk-around. We start the ground level inspection at the right front wheel. Look for cuts, bulges, any foreign objects in the tire and proper air pressure. Look for cracks, corrosion or other damage at the wheel hub. Next check the wheel lug nuts. Are they all there? Do any of them appear to be loose? A good way to tell if the lug is loose is to look for paint missing or rust forming around the lug.

After the right front tire we move to the front and inspect the front axle, looking for leaks or other damage. From there we move to the decking blade. Check the hydraulic cylinders for leaks, damaged hoses or other damage. It is important to check every point where the cylinder is pinned to the machine to be sure the pin retention bolts are not missing or loose.

Now we walk in front of the machine, checking the decking blade to ensure that it is not damaged. Then we move to the left front of the machine where we again check the axle for leaks or damage. The left front tire is next, inspecting it and the wheel hub for the same issues as the first tire.

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