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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
By: Diego Navarro, Aftermarket Sales Manager, John Deere Forestry
Southern loggers and their equipment may not have to cope with the brutally harsh winter conditions faced by their Northern counterparts, but that doesn’t mean they can ignore colder weather challenges. Here are a few simple steps every logger can take to help ensure uninterrupted productivity as the temperature drops.
Change to a lighter-weight engine oil. Most forestry equipment manufacturers recommend switching from heavier 15w40 to lighter 10w30 for winter operation. The lighter oil makes morning starts easier, reducing the load on batteries. It also flows more quickly and smoothly through cold engines to better accomplish its engine-protecting mission.
Check engine coolants. For winter conditions in most of the region’s forests, a glycol concentration of 50% is more than sufficient, protecting against coolant freezing down to -30ºF. Test-strip kits make this check easy, even in the field. If the glycol concentration is low, add glycol to your cooling system until the concentration reaches the desired level. If the cooling system is full, you will need to drain some coolant before adding glycol.
Also test for the proper level of coolant additives, which protect the cooling system against corrosion and cavitation. Separate test strips are available for additive testing. If the additive concentration is low, add the concentrated coolant additive specified in your owner’s manual.
By: David Abbott, Managing Editor of Southern Loggin’ Times magazine
The American Loggers Council held its 23rd Annual Meeting on September 28-30 in Natchez, Miss. As it does every fall, the ALC meets in the home state of the outgoing President, in this case Mississippi logger Ken Martin. ALC Presidents serve single year terms. Along with voting on many issues of great significance to the industry, attendees at the event have the opportunity to network with their peers from throughout the country.
Among the activities was a visit to the job site of a local logger. This year, the group toured operations of Chip Sullivan’s BLC Logging, based in Tallulah, La. What made the job particularly interesting was its location: on Davis Island in the Mississippi River, right on the line between Mississippi and Louisiana. The island has a lot of history: it was once owned by the family of Confederate President Jefferson Davis.
After educational/technical seminars Friday and an auction Friday night, the ALC Executive Committee met on Saturday morning, followed by a meeting of all members present. Later, at a Saturday luncheon, several individuals and companies were singled out and honored for their support of the ALC and of the industry. Among these, DK Knight, the Co-Publisher and Executive Editor of Hatton-Brown Publishers, parent company of both Southern Loggin’ Times and Timber Harvesting, was recognized for his 50 years as an advocate for loggers.
From the ‘People Power’ column in Timber Harvesting magazine
Written By: Wendy Farrand, Owner of WFarrand Consulting
“What’s the big deal? You come to work, you get the wood out, and you go home.”
Those were the exact words of an old-time logger I worked with who was totally perplexed about the need for regular meetings in the woods. Smaller crews may be able to skirt the regular meeting recommendation, but if you are a leader, and you are not holding regular structured meetings, your crew isn’t as effective, productive or as safe as they could be, no matter what size it is.
I believe that with all my heart. Things may be flowing smoothly, but without the opportunity to regularly share, set expectations and hold people accountable, you will feel the impact somewhere down the road.
Strong, clear communication is key, and not just for communication’s sake, but for the sake of a lot of other things as well, including safety, accountability, raising the bar, setting goals, motivation, team building, squelching negativity, and education.
As a leader, contractor or supervisor, it is your responsibility to bring your crews together on a regular basis to build a strong structure in which the wood can flow. Ideally, this is a structure of respect created by the professionalism that you demand from the professionals that work for you.