2014 Western Pulp, Paper, & Forest Products Safety & Health Conference Appears to be Going “Viral”

The Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences has been attending this conference for many years, and this year, we noticed something extraordinary. A formerly sleepy conference has taken on new energy and is attracting attendees from as far away as South Carolina and surrounding states. And all participants, from health and safety managers to loggers in the field, showed an eagerness to improve safety in their workplaces.

Perhaps it is because this conference is one of only a few health and safety conferences in the United States addressing the needs of the woods products industry. Or maybe it’s because this conference offered timely topics for both loggers and forest products operators…who knows? Nevertheless, this is great news for those concerned about safety, health and wellbeing in an industrial sector that has traditionally been one of the most hazardous.

We were interested in learning about what most concerns wood products workers in their jobs, so we posed the following questions (see photo): What’s on your mind? What’s of concern in your workplace? The most common expressed concern related to sleep; workers often feel as though they are not able to get enough. Sound familiar? Sleep is a hot topic, because research is showing that abnormal sleep is a major factor in a variety of disease states, including obesity and heart disease, among others. Our institute is conducting a variety of research in this area. The many other concerns posted by participants can be seen in the photo.

And finally, we have to mention our Oregon Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (OR-FACE) program. OR-FACE is producing a wide variety of Tool Box Talks that address workplace fatalities in Oregon and how to avoid them. These were very popular at this conference. You can access and download the OR-FACE Tool Box Talks series on the OR-FACE website.

This conference was a joint effort of the Oregon/Idaho/Utah Pulp & Paper Workers Council of AWPPW, Oregon Occupational Safety & Health Division (Oregon OSHA), the Washington/Alaska Council of AWPPW, the Washington Department of Labor & Industries (DOSH), USW, the pulp and paper manufacturing, and forest products industries.

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