Safety Team Trains Loggers & Contractors | Rayonier Stories

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Rayonier Safety Team Trains 100s of Loggers and Contractors

The team traveled to 8 states for sessions geared toward helping logging companies set up their own OSHA Safety programs.

While safety has always been a priority at Rayonier, we recently boosted our commitment by adopting safety as a core value. After all, priorities can shift, but our dedication to safety should be fundamental. Our hope is that this increased focus on safety will encourage employees, contractors and even competitors to take a hard look at their own safety practices and see how they too might evolve. 

Bill Monahan, Rayonier’s Director of Western Forest Resources, describes his own safety evolution as one that has shifted from passive to active: “Early in my career, I thought about safety almost like it was a condition or simply the environment I was in—is it safe or not safe? Now I think about safety in an active way, almost like a mindset or a commitment to a set of behaviors.”

Two men shaking hands
Rayonier Senior Manager of Operations Safety shakes hands with a participant during one of the contractor safety training events.

Creating a Series of Logging Contractor Workforce Training Sessions

This April, in an effort to encourage our contractors to shift their own safety programs from passive to active, the Rayonier Safety Department kicked off an ambitious series of coast-to-coast Contractor Workforce Safety Training events that brought safety experts together with Rayonier contractors to focus on best practices and OSHA training standards.

A core team of 12 Rayonier employees and safety consultants traveled from town to town, and—with the help of more than 100 Rayonier volunteers from offices around the country—conducted 15 sessions in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas and Washington. 

By the end of June, this effort brought more than 650 contractors and 100 Rayonier employees up to speed on OSHA requirements and prepared them to implement their own active, written safety programs by 2023. 

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Mark Hebert, Director of Eastern Forest Resources described the trainings as “a way to demonstrate our commitment so we can have credibility to go to our contractors and convince them that we need to do this together.”

Map with pinpoints in the Southeast and Pacific Northwest U.S.
The Rayonier Safety Team traveled across the U.S. to train contractors in all of these locations.

Designed to help us learn from one another

The unique event format was designed to keep participants engaged throughout a full day of training. During each event, attendees were broken into small groups that moved from one 30-minute roundtable discussion to another. This allowed participants to hear from eight different safety professionals as they learned to develop, maintain and enhance their own safety programs. 

The discussions covered topics such as maintaining a safe working environment, determining which OSHA standards apply to their business, building an effective safety program, keeping records that satisfy OSHA requirements and navigating valuable safety tools to help manage and strengthen their program.

Some of the larger events hosted almost 100 attendees, but by breaking into small groups, participants were able to get comfortable with one another and engage in more thoughtful discussions.

While many contractors shared common challenges, like how to keep workers focused on safety while also meeting production goals, others brought up unique solutions to common problems, such as making new workers more visible by having them wear a different-colored hard hat as they learn to navigate a dangerous work environment.

The Contractor Workforce Safety Training events were the brainchild of Tracie Gibbs, Rayonier’s Director of Safety. Tracie is passionate about giving people the tools they need to stay safe both on the clock and off: “Safety is about people, and we can’t turn a blind eye or neglect the fact that this industry needs help. This is not about trees. This is not about real estate. This is about people. From road builders to loggers to beaver catchers to truckers to brush pickers, each individual is worth the incredible effort that Rayonier has put into hosting these training sessions.”

Tracie Gibbs sits at a table with a trainee
Tracie Gibbs, Rayonier’s Director of Safety, led the charge to train contractors across the country.

Safety decisions can change our industry

Logging is consistently one of the top three most dangerous jobs in the United States, and it’s important to remember that the safety decisions each one of us makes affect more than just ourselves—they also affect our families, our coworkers and our coworkers’ families. 

During his presentations, Tom Hoffman of Site Safety Services LLC offered a compelling perspective to attendees. Early in his career, Tom was crushed by a rolling log and lost part of his right arm. Several months into his recovery, he decided that when he finally got out of the hospital, he was going to work in safety. He then spent the bulk of his career working for OSHA and investigating more than 300 fatalities in Oregon. 

When asked why he agreed to participate in the Rayonier training events, Tom said, “You never get over when somebody gets hurt. You never forget what it looks like or what it feels like. Being part of this training has allowed me to talk about some of the things I’ve seen and done, and it’s helping me get through it.”

Tom Hoffman points to his prosthetic arm
Tom Hoffman decided to dedicate his career to safety training after losing his arm in a logging accident.

“Hoping” we’re safe is not enough

Presenter John Boren, owner of RÄV EHS Consulting LLC, said when he asks each employer what they’re doing to provide a safe workplace free from recognized hazards, they often respond that “they hope they’re doing enough, and they hope they never have a serious incident. It’s important to understand that hope isn’t really a health and safety strategy.” We want to be more deliberate when thinking about the safety of our teams. We want to use the specific tools that make our workplaces safer.

Rayonier Safety Specialist Kathy Brooks explained why taking a step back to evaluate the effectiveness of a safety program is so essential: “There’s always room to improve, so it’s important to identify the things you’re doing well and find ways to improve the parts that aren’t working. Continuous improvement is the goal.” 

At Rayonier, safety is a way of life, and we believe it’s time for the timber industry to take a step back and rethink our approach to safety. Our safety programs shouldn’t be kept private; they should be shared—with contractors and with competitors—so that we effect rapid and dramatic progress that strengthens the safety culture of not just one company but also of the forest industry as a whole. Safe workers benefit us all. We’re proud of our safety team for taking a step in the right direction with these Contractor Workforce Training events.

Article written by Karie Kermath, Rayonier Safety Specialist.

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