“Zzzzz”-There’s No “Sawing Logs” in Sawmill Facilities
Sawmills can be a highly dangerous work environment. In the United States, the typical sawmill injury rate is more than two and a half times greater than the general manufacturing injury rate. Each day, employees operate heavy machinery and equipment which can easily cause injuries. Frequent injuries in these facilities include lacerations, amputations, severed fingers and blindness. These injury types typically happen when machines are used improperly or there is a malfunction in the equipment. The most common causes of compensated injuries derive from muscular stress, being hit by moving objects, slips, trips and falls.
High-risk sawmill activities include:
- Band saw blade and pulley cleaning procedures
- Round and sawn timber stacking
- Guarding of power operated cross-cut saws
- Management of site transports activities
- Lock-out procedures for interrupting mechanized production processes
Combustible dust explosions are also a prevalent concern for sawmill workers. These explosions are caused by combustible dust, heat, oxygen, confined dust and the dispersion of concentrated dust particles.
This type of explosion, however, can easily be prevented by:
- Minimizing dust in the workplace: Equipment, floors, sills and other surfaces near the cleanup area should be wiped down or vacuumed frequently.
- Minimizing dispersion: Cleaning with compressed air should occur in localized or isolated areas. Cleaning of a number of work areas should occur in stages. Where practicable, areas should be washed with water or a water mist should be applied.
- Eliminating sources of ignition: Machinery and equipment in recent operation must be allowed to cool prior to blow down, and other hot surfaces must be identified and cooled or removed. Electrical equipment in the area must be de-energized and locked out.
- Providing emergency response/equipment: Fire protection equipment must be readily available and in service.