Title page for ETD etd-09122009-040333

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Sluss, Richard Gordon
URN etd-09122009-040333
Title Managerial and operational characteristics of "safety successful" logging contractors
Degree Master of Science
Department Forestry
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Reisinger, T. W. Committee Chair
Shaffer, R. M. Committee Member
Stuart, W. B. Committee Member
  • Logging
Date of Defense 1992-08-28
Availability unrestricted
Twenty-six "safety successful" logging contractors in ten southeastern states were interviewed to document and determine their loss control methods. During the interviews, data were taken on the harvesting system, owner and crew demographics, management style, employee selection and training methods, workers compensation insurance rates, and accident history over the past five years.

Even though the contractors had fewer accidents, the data indicated that the majority of these contractors were similar to other contractors in their region in terms of age, education, harvesting method (i.e. clearcutting), crew size, method of payment, and harvesting system (i.e. mechanical felling with gate and motor-manual delimbing). However, the contractors in this study had more business experience, higher production rates, higher utilization of logging capacity, and substantially fewer accidents.

The major conclusions of the study were: 1) the contractors interviewed were better than "average" in terms of their safety record, but by no means accident-free, 2) contractors were similar to others in their region in terms of harvesting systems and crew size, but were able to produce at much higher rates while maintaining low accident frequencies, 3) crew stability, tenure, and experience probably had the greatest effect on reducing the frequency and seriousness of accidents, 4) although important, safety was not a separate or distinct component of the management practices, 5) use of personal protective equipment was the norm rather than the exception on the contractors' operations, 6) contractors believed mechanization of the harvesting systems helped to reduce accident frequencies, 7) because of harvesting mechanization the type, location, and severity of accidents which occurred for this group of contractors differed from the larger population of loggers, 8) production and crew size did not affect the safety of the operation, 9) the benefits far out weighed the costs of maintaining a safe operation, and 10) all the contractors recognized the value of operating safely, but they felt that safety was just part of the normal operation of a well-managed logging business.

In summary, no one "key" characteristic or trait associated with safety was consistently found for this "select group" of small to large logging contractors, rather, overall safety was found to be only one part of their total business operation. The evolution of a "safety successful" contractor begins with effective management skills which, in turn, lead to consistent production levels, financial stability, lower labor turnover, and fewer accidents.

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