Minimum
Guidelines
Site Hazards

You need to be aware of the common hazards you will encounter as a tree planter in order to be able to take steps to prevent accidents, injuries and occupational illnesses.

Burned areas

You may be planting trees in areas that have been burned by a prescribed burn to remove slash, or by a wildfire. You need to be aware of some of the hazards associated with burned areas:

  • breathing the soot and charcoal over a long period of time may contribute to the development of cancer or other lung problems

  • areas that have been recently burned may also have hot spots or ash pits that are still burning, which, if stepped into, may result in burns or other injury.

As a rule of thumb, a burned area should only be planted after a good rain has cooled down the area, and dampened or washed away the fine, light material that could easily become airborne.

Insects

You will encounter a number of insects while working outdoors in BC. Some insects are pests, and some can cause injury or serious illness. In summary here are the insects you should be aware of, the potential hazards, and the precautions you should take:

Bees, wasps and hornets

Hazard:

  • stings that are painful and may cause an allergic reaction

  • allergic reactions can be fatal in some cases.

Precautions:

  • be aware of potential nesting sites

  • watch for swarms of insects, obvious nests and nest entrances at the base of stumps and in fallen logs

  • seek immediate treatment for all stings

  • carry bee sting treatment swabs to reduce the pain of the sting

  • ensure that a bee sting kit and antihistamines are available on site, or carried on your person if you know that you are allergic to stings

  • inform your employer and the first aid attendant of known allergies.

Black flies, mosquitoes and no-see-ums

Hazard:

  • bites that cause irritation
  • multiple bites may cause swelling, particularly around the eyes and lips
  • inhaling insects can cause discomfort.

Precautions:

  • use insect repellent
  • keep shirts tightly buttoned
  • close pant legs by tucking them into your socks, or by sealing them with tape
  • use a mask to prevent inhalation of insects if they are present in swarms
  • seek first aid for excessive swelling.

Deer and horse flies

Hazards:

  • painful bites that may cause swelling.

Precautions:

  • use insect repellent
  • keep shirts tightly buttoned
  • close pant legs by tucking them into your socks, or by sealing them with tape
  • seek first aid for excessive swelling.

House flies

Hazards:

  • transfer of disease, particularly food borne disease.

Precautions:

  • follow camp sanitation guidelines.

Ticks

Hazards:

  • the insect becoming embedded in the skin, the transfer of disease (e.g., lyme disease, rocky mountain spotted fever), infection.
Precautions:
  • use insect repellent

  • keep shirts tightly buttoned

  • close pant legs by tucking them into your socks, or by sealing them with tape

  • check yourself daily for ticks (especially in the folds of the skin, hair lines, the back of neck, and the belt line)

  • seek first aid, do not attempt to remove ticks by pulling or prying, their heads will break off under your skin.

Pesticide

Pesticides include fungicides, herbicides and insecticides. You may encounter pesticides in treated planting areas and on treated seedlings. The Ministry of Forests or client should provide your employer with material safety data sheets (MSDS).

Treated planting areas

You may be planting in areas that have been treated with herbicides used to kill unwanted vegetation. Important information to know is:

  • treated areas must have signs posted indicating the date of treatment and the type of herbicide agent used

  • most common herbicides used in BC have a minimum site re-entry time of 48 hours or less (e.g., the herbicide Vision has a site re-entry time of 12 hours)

  • site re-entry is allowed sooner if the required personal protective equipment and clothing is used

  • as a rule of thumb, waiting 48 hours after an area has been treated with herbicides before re-entering is sufficient in almost all cases.
Remember, YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO KNOW about a herbicide and its potentially harmful effects. Ask to see the material safety data sheet (MSDS).

Seedlings

Seedlings may have been treated with fungicides, herbicides or insecticides at the nursery. Pesticide use is being reduced and the residue left on seedlings has been determined to be low. Important information to know is:

  • boxes of seedlings may be marked as "Pesticide Free" or indicate the type of pesticide applied to the seedlings and the last application date

  • your employer has the responsibility to inform you if the seedlings have been treated

  • avoid breathing any fumes when opening tree boxes

  • tip opened tree boxes on their side to allow any pesticide residue to escape

  • never use the tree boxes for food storage.
Remember, YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO KNOW about a pesticide and its potentially harmful effects. Ask to see the material safety data sheet (MSDS).

General precautions

You must use the following precautions to protect yourself from the potential harmful effects of pesticides:

  • dress to minimize exposure by wearing:
    - a long-sleeved shirt free of holes or tears
    - impervious gloves such as rubber, nitrile or vinyl
    - long pants
    - sturdy boots covering the ankles
  • wash your hands before eating, smoking, urinating or defecating
  • start each day with clean clothes
  • wash your clothes and work gloves often
  • change out of your work clothes after work (do not sleep in them)
  • hang clothes to dry in designated areas away from sleeping, food preparation or dining areas.

Slopes and Footing

A major source of injury to tree planters is slipping, tripping or falling down. You will be required to work on steep slopes, or in areas with unstable ground, fallen trees, rotting vegetation or slipping hazards.

To minimize the risk of injury, take the following precautions:

  • keep your caulked boots in good shape and replace the caulks often

  • choose your route carefully to avoid holes, rotten vegetation, and steep slopes or drops

  • test your footing before putting your foot down by applying gentle pressure

  • avoid walking on logs with loose bark

  • avoid being above or below fellow workers when you are working on steep ground, and always watch for rolling debris.

Snags

A snag is defined by the WCB as: "Any dead or dying tree, three or more metres in height."

The WCB considers unstable snags in the work area to be a serious hazard. Important points to note are:

  • The WCB requires all snags to be removed prior to working in the area, or evaluated for suitability as a wildlife tree by a certified Wildlife Tree Assessor.

  • Unstable or dangerous snags are to be felled prior to working in the area, or a "no work zone" must be established with a radius of two (2) times the height of the snag.

  • Wildlife trees that are unstable or dangerous must have a "no work zone" established with a radius of two (2) times the height of the tree.

  • No work zones can be three (3) or more times the height of the tree in areas with steep ground.

Spruce Rash

Some planters are sensitive or allergic to the irritation from spruce seedling needles. Wearing rubber gloves and longsleeved shirts provides good protection for hands and arms.

Weather

As a tree planter you will be required to work in all types of weather and need to be aware of some of the potential risks.

Health hazards

Hypothermia (lowered body temperature)

Hazards:

  • can occur when you are wet, the temperature is slightly above freezing, and there is a wind

  • advanced symptoms can lead to cardiac arrest.
Precautions:
  • dress for the weather, this includes wearing good quality rain gear

  • eat nutritious, hot meals drink hot fluids

  • start each work day in dry clothing

  • watch for signs and symptoms of hypothermia which include: - shivering, confusion, inappropriate behaviour - dilated pupils - wanting to sleep - unconsciousness

  • seek first aid immediately if signs and symptoms are present.

Heat cramps

Hazards:

  • excessive sweating without adequate fluid and electrolyte replacement

  • the legs (particularly the calves) and arms may cramp, most often during a rest period.
Precautions:
  • drink adequate amounts of water

  • salt your food during hot weather

  • ensure good physical conditioning before starting the season

  • acclimatize yourself to work in hot weather by taking frequent rest breaks, working less than a full day to begin with, and progressively working longer, with fewer rest breaks each day

  • seek first aid if signs and symptoms are present.

Heat exhaustion

Hazards:

  • occurs if the conditions contributing to heat cramps are not dealt with.
Precautions:
  • take steps to prevent heat cramps

  • recognize the symptoms which include: - general weakness, fatigue, dizziness, headache and nausea - fainting or muscle cramps - the skin is usually cool and clammy - the pulse is weak and rapid - breathing is rapid and shallow (panting)

  • seek first aid immediately if signs and symptoms are present.

Heat stroke

Hazards:

  • the body is no longer able to regulate its own temperature

  • it is a medical emergency

  • most often occurs during heavy work in a hot, humid environment.
Precautions:
  • take regular breaks in a cool place during hot weather

  • drink cool drinks

  • replace the body's electrolytes by salting your food

  • acclimatize yourself to work in hot weather by taking frequent rest breaks, working less than a full day to begin with, and progressively working longer, with fewer rest breaks each day

  • recognize the signs and symptoms which include: - headache, nausea and vomiting - the skin is dry and flushed with no sweating - the person may be confused - condition can deteriorate quickly and seizures, loss of consciousness and death can occur

  • seek first aid immediately if signs and symptoms are present.

Sun burn

Hazards:

  • occurs during sunny weather

  • tree planters are susceptible working in open areas with no natural protection

  • painful burns in the short-term

  • may contribute to cancer in the long term.
Precautions:
  • cover exposed skin when possible and wear a hat

  • use sun block on exposed skin.

Physical conditions

You may experience weather conditions that require you to stop work and seek shelter. This includes:

  • dense cloud or fog that makes it difficult to see
  • heavy rain, snow, sleet, hail and/or lightning
  • high winds that may cause tree limbs to fall or push trees over
  • high winds or other bad weather that may make travel by boat or aircraft unsafe.

Wildlife

While working in wilderness areas you may encounter potentially dangerous wildlife. In summary, here are the animals you should be aware of and the precautions you should take.

Bears

Bears are frequently encountered by tree planters. Black bears are more commonly encountered than grizzly bears. However, both can be equally hazardous. A bear will usually only attack when threatened, surprised or when competing for food.

Precautions:

  • store food away from sleeping quarters
  • do not eat or prepare food in your tent
  • dispose of all garbage daily and remove it from the camp
  • keep the camp site clean and free of food debris
  • make noise (talk, sing, use a "bear bell") while working to avoid surprising a bear.

Cougars

Cougars are not normally encountered by tree planters. Only in severe hunger conditions will they compete with humans for food, or attack humans. Cougars are normally not seen and therefore have been nicknamed the "ghost cat." Precautions for avoiding conflict with cougars are the same as for bears.

Rodents

Rodents such as mice or pack rats may be encountered by tree planters. Generally, they are more a nuisance than a threat. However, they may carry the "hanta virus" or other disease(s) that can be dangerous to humans. The "hanta virus" has symptoms similar to the common flu.

Precautions:

  • store food away from sleeping quarters
  • do not eat or prepare food in your tent
  • dispose of all garbage daily and remove it from the camp
  • keep the camp site clean and free of food debris
  • follow all camp sanitation guidelines
  • report all illnesses to your employer immediately.