America's Most Dangerous Occupations, Day One

Over the next ten days I am going to discuss the most dangerous jobs in the United States, according to U.S. labor statistics. Today the most dangerous occupation of all... Loggers.

Few would be surprised by these statistics. Loggers work with heavy loads in bad weather on steep slopes. They face a particular danger known in the trade as "widow makers," which are dead branches snagged in tree tops that work loose during cutting.

The fatality rate pro per 100,000 workers is 127.8. In the past, the biggest exposure for loggers "was men on the ground hit by falling trees or chainsaw kickback," according to Neil Ward, Vice President of the Forest Resources Association. He went on to say that manual chainsaws are now hardly ever used except for upon steep slopes.

To improve worker safety, companies are encouraging workers to wear more visible clothing and to use a signal system to alert logger to imminent dangers. Companies increasingly have been using mechanical filling, in which loggers sit in a protective cabin while a steel arm holding a chainsaw reaches out to cut the trunk.

Pennsylvania is the nations largest producer of hardwood lumber, producing over 1 billion board feet per year. Pennsylvania's logging industry provides more than 90,000 jobs, or 10 percent of Pennsylvania's manufacturing work force, in 2,600 companies.

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