Year of Publication

2016

College

Public Health

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (M.P.H.)

Committee Chair

Wayne Sanderson, PhD, MS

Committee Member

Steven Browning, PhD

Committee Member

Jeff Stringer, PhD

Abstract

Objective: To identify demographic, operational, and task-related characteristics associated with increased frequency and severity of injury in Kentucky’s commercial loggers.

Methods: Kentucky Master Loggers attending mandatory continued education courses completed a survey tool eliciting demographic and operational characteristics of their companies, and details of any on-site injury in the years 2012 through 2015 that led to medical costs, lost days or time, and/or decreased production. Associations to injury frequency and injury severity were assessed using logistic regression analysis.

Results: 86 Kentucky Master Loggers representing 66 of Kentucky’s 120 counties reported 33 accounts of non-fatal logging injury. Master Loggers were full-time (75.29%) owner-operators (83.33%) with a diverse range of logging experience. The majority of operations employed just one to three loggers (70.93%) and operated using non-mechanized (43.53%) or partially mechanized (43.53%) harvesting systems. Of the 33 injured loggers, 22 (66.7%) had greater than three years of experience, and most were injured either while felling (42.42%) or delimbing/topping (24.24%). The average age of injured loggers was 34.6 years with a range age from 21 to 57 years. In multivariate analysis, non-mechanized and full-time operations were significantly associated with injury frequency, and age alone with injury severity.

Conclusion: Significant changes in industry practices have improved the overall safety for loggers in the United States, yet the fatality rate remains thirty times the national average. Reductions in risk can be solved with mechanization of logging operations, however, Kentucky companies are largely non-mechanized. Future studies of Kentucky’s logging community should focus on developing interventions based on the internal characteristics of individual loggers.

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