" DISCLAIMER: The ILO does not take responsibility for content presented on this web portal that is presented in any language other than English, which is the language used for the initial production and peer-review of original content. Certain statistics have not been updated since the production of the 4th edition of the Encyclopaedia (1998)."

Monday, 14 March 2011 17:53

Living Conditions

Written by
Rate this item
(0 votes)

Forestry operations, especially in developing countries, tend to be temporary and seasonal. In general, this work takes place far from urban centres, and workers must travel long distances every day or remain for several days or weeks in camps near the worksites. When workers commute from their homes every day, working conditions depend in large measure on their wages, the size of their family, their level of education and the access they have to health services. These variables, which are related to the level of development a nation has achieved and to the organization of the family group, are key to guaranteeing that basic necessities will be covered. These basic necessities include adequate nourishment, which is especially important given the intensity of the effort required of forestry workers. In many regions even commuting workers will still need protection against adverse weather conditions during breaks, particularly against rain and cold. Mobile shelters are available that are specially designed and equipped for forestry. If such forestry shelters are not provided, those used on construction sites can serve the purpose too. The situation in the camps is different, since their quality depends on the facilities provided by the company in terms of infrastructure and maintenance. The discussion which follows therefore refers to living conditions in forestry camps in so far as housing, leisure and nourishment are concerned.

Camp Infrastructure

Camps can be defined as temporary homes for forestry workers when they operate in remote or hard-to-reach locations. To fulfil their purpose, the camps should provide at least minimal levels of sanitation and comfort. It is therefore important to ask: How do different people interpret what these minimal levels should be? The concept is subjective, but it is possible to assert that, in the case of a camp, the minimal conditions required are that the infrastructure provide facilities and basic services that are consistent with human dignity, where each worker can partake with others on the crew without having to significantly alter his or her personal habits or beliefs.

One question that needs to be addressed when planning a forestry camp is the time that the camp will remain in a particular location. Since normally tasks must be shifted from one place to the other, fixed camps, while easier to set up and maintain, are not the solution that is usually required. In general, mobile structures are the most practical, and they should be easy to take down and move from one location to the next. This presents a complex problem, because even well-built modules deteriorate easily as they are moved. Conditions at mobile camps, therefore, tend to be very primitive.

In terms of facilities, a camp should offer an adequate supply of water, enough dormitories, a kitchen, bathrooms and recreation facilities. The size of each site will depend on the number of people who will be using it. In addition there should be separate stores for food, fuel, tools and materials.

Dormitories should allow workers to maintain their privacy. Since this is generally not possible in a camp, the number of people should not exceed six in each dormitory. This number has been arrived at through experience, since it has been found that a collapsible structure can accommodate six workers comfortably, allowing enough room for lockers where they can keep their personal belongings. In sharp contrast to this example, a dormitory that is crowded and dirty is absolutely inadequate for human use. An adequate dormitory is sanitary, with a clean floor, good ventilation and a minimal effort to create a comfortable atmosphere (e.g., with curtains and bedspreads of the same colour).

The kitchen, for its part, constitutes one of the most critical facilities in a camp. The first requirement is that the individuals in charge of the kitchen be skilled in sanitation and food handling. They should be licensed by an authorized authority and be supervised regularly. The kitchen should be easy to clean and should have adequate space for food storage. If food is stocked weekly or biweekly the kitchen should have a refrigerator to keep perishable food. It may be inconvenient and time-consuming for workers to return to camp for lunch: sanitary arrangements should be provided for packing lunches for workers to carry with them or to be delivered to them.

With regards to recreation facilities, mess halls are commonly used for this purpose. If workers are at their tasks all day and the only place to unwind is the eating quarters, these rooms should have enough of an infrastructure to allow workers to feel comfortable and recuperate physically and mentally from their workday. There should be adequate ventilation and, if the season requires, heating. Eating tables should not be for more than six people and should be lined with an easy to clean surface. If the dining-room is also used for recreation it should have, when possible, a television or a radio that can let workers stay in touch with the rest of the world. It is also advisable to provide some table games like checkers, cards and dominoes. Since among forestry workers there is an important contingent of young workers, it is not a bad idea to set up an area where they can play sports.

One aspect that is extremely important is the quality of sanitary facilities, showers and facilities for workers to wash and dry their belongings. It is important to keep in mind that faeces and waste in general are one of the most common avenues for the transmission of disease. It is therefore better to obtain water from a deep well than from a shallow one. If electric pumps can be installed, well-water may be raised into tanks that can then supply the camp. If for any reason it is not possible to erect sanitary services of this kind, chemical latrines should be installed. In any case, the elimination of human and other waste should be done carefully, making especially sure that they are not discharged in areas close to where food is kept or where drinking water is obtained.

Nutrition

Nutrition is a basic necessity for the maintenance of life and for the health of all human beings. Food provides not only nutrients but the energy required to carry out all activities in daily life. In the case of forestry workers, the caloric content of foods consumed is especially important because most of the harvesting, handling and forest protection activities demand great physical exertion (see the article “Physical load” in this chapter for data on energy consumption in forest work). Forestry workers need, therefore, more nourishment than people who do less demanding work. When a worker does not consume enough energy to offset daily energy expenditures, at first he or she will burn the reserves accumulated in body fat, losing weight. However, this can be done for only a limited time. It has been observed that, in the medium term, those workers who do not obtain in their diet the energy equivalent to their daily expenditures will limit their activity and lower their output. As a consequence, if they are paid by piece rate, their income also decreases.

Before analysing just how much energy a worker must consume as part of his or her diet, it bears mentioning that modern forestry work relies on increasingly sophisticated technology, where human energy is replaced by that of machinery. In those situations, operators run the risk of consuming more energy than they require, accumulating the excess as fat and risking obesity. In modern society, obesity is a malady that affects many people, but it is unusual in forestry workers where traditional methods are employed. According to studies carried out in Chile, it is becoming more common among machine operators. Obesity diminishes the quality of life because it is associated with a lower physical aptitude, predisposing those who suffer from it to accidents and to illnesses such as cardiovascular disease and more joint and muscle lesions.

For this reason all forestry workers, whether their daily activity is heavy or sedentary, should have access to a well-balanced diet that provides them with adequate amounts of energy. The key is to educate them so that they can regulate their food needs themselves. Unfortunately, this is a fairly difficult problem to solve; the tendency observed in studies carried out in Chile is for workers to consume all the food provided by the company and, in general, to still find their diet insufficient even though their weight variations indicate the opposite. The solution therefore is to educate the workers so that they learn to eat according to their energy requirements.

If workers are well informed about the problems created by eating too much, camps should offer diets keeping in mind the workers with the highest energy expenditures. The intake and expenditure of human energy is commonly expressed in kilojoules. However, the more widely known unit is the kilocalorie. The amount of energy required by a forestry worker when the job demands intense physical exertion, as in the case of a chain-saw operator or a worker using an axe, can reach 5,000 calories a day or even more. However, to expend those high amounts of energy, a worker must have a very good physical aptitude and reach the end of the workday without undue fatigue. Studies carried out in Chile have resulted in recommendations of an average of 4,000 calories provided daily, in the form of three basic meals at breakfast, lunch and dinnertime. This allows for the possibility of snacking at mid-morning and mid-afternoon so that additional amounts of energy can be provided. Studies over periods of more than a year have shown that, with a system like the one described, workers tend to maintain their body weight and increase their output and their incomes when pay is tied to their output.

A good diet must be balanced and provide, in addition to energy, essential nutrients for the maintenance of life and good health. Among other elements a diet should provide adequate amounts of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, minerals and vitamins. The tendency in developing countries is for groups that have low incomes to consume fewer proteins and fats and higher amounts of carbohydrates. The lack of the first two elements is due to a low consumption of foods of animal origin. In addition, a lack of certain vitamins and minerals has been observed due to a low consumption of foods of animal origin, fruits and vegetables. To summarize, the diet should be varied to balance the intake of essential nutrients. The most convenient option is to seek the help of specialized dieticians who know about the demands of heavy work. These professionals can develop diets that are reasonably cost efficient and that take into account the tastes, the traditions and the beliefs of the consumers and provide the amounts of energy required by forestry workers for their daily labour.

A very important element is a supply of liquid of good quality—not contaminated and in sufficient quantity. In manual and chain-saw work with high temperatures, a worker needs approximately 1 litre of liquid per hour. Dehydration drastically reduces working capacity and ability to concentrate, thereby increasing the risk of accidents. Therefore water, tea or other suitable drinks need to be available at the worksite as well as in the camp.

Consumption of alcohol and drugs should be strictly forbidden. Cigarette smoking, which is a fire hazard as well as a health hazard, should only be allowed in restricted areas and never in dormitories, recreation areas, dining halls and worksites.

Comments

This article has dealt with some of the general measures that can improve the living conditions and the diet of forestry camps. But while these two aspects are fundamental, they are not the only ones. It is also important to design the work in an ergonomically appropriate way because accidents, occupational injuries and the general fatigue that result from these activities have an impact on output and consequently on incomes. This last aspect of forestry work is of vital importance if workers and their families are to enjoy a better quality of life.

 

Back

Read 2287 times Last modified on Tuesday, 28 June 2011 10:38

Contents

Preface
Part I. The Body
Part II. Health Care
Part III. Management & Policy
Part IV. Tools and Approaches
Part V. Psychosocial and Organizational Factors
Part VI. General Hazards
Part VII. The Environment
Part VIII. Accidents and Safety Management
Part IX. Chemicals
Part X. Industries Based on Biological Resources
Agriculture and Natural Resources Based Industries
Beverage Industry
Fishing
Food Industry
Forestry
Resources
Hunting
Livestock Rearing
Lumber
Paper and Pulp Industry
Part XI. Industries Based on Natural Resources
Part XII. Chemical Industries
Part XIII. Manufacturing Industries
Part XIV. Textile and Apparel Industries
Part XV. Transport Industries
Part XVI. Construction
Part XVII. Services and Trade
Part XVIII. Guides

Forestry Additional Resources

Click the Button below to view additional resources for this topic.

button

Forestry References

Apud, E, L Bostrand, I Mobbs, and B Strehlke. 1989. Guidelines on Ergonomic Study in Forestry. Geneva: ILO.

Apud, E and S Valdés. 1995. Ergonomics in Forestry—The Chilean Case. Geneva: ILO.

Banister, E, D Robinson, and D Trites. 1990. Ergonomics of Tree Planting. Canada–British Columbia Forest Resources Development Agreement, FRDA Report 127. Victoria, BC: FRDA.

Brown, GW. 1985. Forestry and Water Quality. Corvallis, OR: Oregon State University (OSU) Book Stores Inc.

Chen, KT. 1990. Logging Accidents—An Emerging Problem. Sarawak, Malaysia: Occupational Health Unit, Medical Department.

Dummel, K and H Branz. 1986. “Holzernteverfahren,” Schriften Reihefdes Bundesministers für Ernätrung, Handwirtschaft und Forsten. Reihe A: Landwirtschafts verlag Münster-Hiltrup.

Durnin, JVGA and R Passmore. 1967. Energy, Work, Leisure. London: Heinemann.

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. 1992. Introduction to Ergonomics in Forestry in Developing Countries. Forestry Paper 100. Rome:FAO.

—. 1995. Forestry—Statistics Today for Tomorrow. Rome: FAO.

—. 1996. FAO Model Code of Forest Harvesting Practice. Rome: FAO.

FAO/ECE/ILO. 1989. Impact of Mechanization of Forest Operations on the Soil. Proceedings of a seminar, Louvain-la-neuve, Belgium, 11–15 September. Geneva: FAO/ECE/ILO Joint Committee on Forest Technology, Management and Training.

—. 1991. The Use of Pesticides in Forestry. Proceedings of a seminar, Sparsholt, UK, 10–14 September 1990.

—. 1994. Soil, Tree, Machine Interactions, FORSITRISK. Proceedings of an interactive workshop and seminar, Feldafiraf, Germany, 4–8 July. Geneva: FAO/ECE/ILO Joint Committee on Forest Technology, Management and Training.

—. 1996a. Manual on Acute Forest Damage. UN/ECE/ FAO discussion papers ECE/TIM/DP/7, New York and Geneva: Joint FAO/ECE/ILO Committee on Forest Technology, Management and Training.

—. 1996b. Skills and Training in Forestry—Results of a Survey of ECE Member Countries. Geneva: FAO/ECE/ILO Joint Committee on Forest Technology, Management and Training.

FAO/ILO. 1980. Chainsaws in Tropical Forests. Forest Training Series No. 2. Rome: FAO.

Gellerstedt, S. 1993. Work and Health in Forest Work. Göteborg: Chalmers University of Technology.

Giguère, D, R Bélanger, J-M Gauthier, and C Larue. 1991. Étude préliminaire du travail de reboisement. Rapport IRSST B-026. Montreal: IRSST.

—. 1993. Ergonomics aspects of tree planting using multi-pot technology. Ergonomics 36(8):963-972.

Golsse, JM. 1994. Revised FERIC Ergonomic Checklist for Canadian Forest Machinery. Pointe Claire: Forest Engineering Research institute of Canada.

Haile, F. 1991. Women Fuelwood Carriers in Addis Ababa and the Peri-urban Forest. Research on women in fuelwood transport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia ETH/88/MO1/IRDC and ETH/89/MO5/NOR. Project report. Geneva: ILO.

Harstela, P. 1990. Work postures and strain of workers in Nordic forest work: A selective review. Int J Ind Erg 5:219–226.

International Labour Organization (ILO). 1969. Safety and Health in Forestry Work. An ILO Code of Practice. Geneva: ILO.

—. 1988. Maximum Weights in Load Lifting and Carrying. Occupational Safety and Health Service, No. 59. Geneva: ILO.

—. 1991. Occupational Safety and Health in Forestry. Report II, Forestry and Wood Industries Committee, Second Session. Geneva: ILO.

—. 1997. Code of Practice on Safety and Health in Forest Work. MEFW/1997/3. Geneva: ILO.

—. 1998. Code of Practice on Safety and Health in Forest Work. Geneva: ILO.

International Standards Organization (ISO). 1986. Equipment for Working the Soil: ROPS—Laboratory Testing and Performance Specifications. ISO 3471-1. Geneva: ISO.

Jokulioma, H and H Tapola. 1993. Forest worker safety and health in Finland. Unasylva 4(175):57–63.

Juntunen, ML. 1993. Training of harvester operations in Finland. Presented in seminar on the use of multifunctional machinery and equipment in logging operations. Olenino Logging Enterprise, Tvor Region, Russian Federation 22–28 August.

—. 1995. Professional harvester operator: Basic knowledge and skills from training—Operating skills from working life? Presented in IUFRO XX World Congress, Tampre, Finland, 6–12 August.

Kanninen, K. 1986. The occurrence of occupational accidents in logging operations and the aims of preventive measures. In the proceedings of a seminar on occupational health and rehabilitation of forest workers, Kuopio, Finland, 3–7 June 1985. FAO/ECE/ILO Joint Committee on Forest Working Techniques and Training of Forest Workers.

Kastenholz, E. 1996. Sicheres Handeln bei der Holzernteuntersuchung von Einflüssen auf das Unfallgeschehen bei der Waldarbeit unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der Lohnform. Doctoral dissertation. Freiburg, Germany: University of Freiburg.

Kantola, M and P Harstela. 1988. Handbook on Appropriate Technology for Forestry Operations in Developing Counties, Part 2. Forestry Training Programme Publication 19. Helsinki: National Board of Vocational Education.

Kimmins, H. 1992. Balancing Act—Environmental Issues in Forestry. Vancouver, BC: University of British Columbia Press.

Lejhancova, M. 1968. Skin damage caused by mineral oils. Procovni Lekarstvi 20(4):164–168.

Lidén, E. 1995. Forest Machine Contractors in Swedish Industrial Forestry: Significance and Conditions during 1986–1993. Department of Operational Efficiency Report No. 195. Swedish University of Agricultural Science.

Ministry of Skills Development. 1989. Cutter-skidder Operator: Competency-based Training Standards. Ontario: Ministry of Skills Development.

Moos, H and B Kvitzau. 1988. Retraining of adult forest workers entering forestry from other occupation. In Proceedings of Seminar on the Employment of Contractors in Forestry, Loubières, France 26-30 September 1988. Loubiéres: FAO/ECE/ILO Joint Committee on Forest Work Techniques and Training of Forest Workers.

National Proficiency Test Council (NPTC) and Scottish Skill Testing Service (SSTS). 1992. Schedule of Chainsaw Standards. Warwickshire, UK: NPTC and SSTS.

—. 1993. Certificates of Competence in Chainsaw Operation. Warwickshire, United Kingdom: National Proficiency Tests Council and Scottish Skills Testing Service.

Patosaari, P. 1987. Chemicals in Forestry: Health Hazards and Protection. Report to the FAO/ECE/ILO Joint Committee on Forest Working Technique and Training of Forest Workers, Helsinki (mimeo).

Pellet. 1995. Rapport d’étude: L’ánalyse de l’áccident par la méthode de l’arbre des causes. Luzern: Schweizerische Unfallversicherungsanstalt (SUVA) (mimeo).

Powers, RF, DH Alban, RE Miller, AE Tiarks, CG Wells, PE Avers, RG Cline, RO Fitzgerald, and JNS Loftus. 1990.
Sustaining site productivity in North American forests: Problems and prospects. In Sustained Productivity of Forest Soils, edited by SP Gessed, DS Lacate, GF Weetman and RF Powers. Vancouver, BC: Faculty of Forestry Publication.

Robinson, DG, DG Trites, and EW Banister. 1993. Physiological effects of work stress and pesticides exposure in tree planting by British Columbian silviculture workers. Ergonomics 36(8):951–961.

Rodero, F. 1987. Nota sobre siniestralidad en incendios forestales. Madrid, Spain: Instituto Nacional para la Conservación de la Naturaleza.

Saarilahti, M and A Asghar. 1994. Study on winter planting of chir pine. Research paper 12, ILO project, Pakistan.
Skoupy, A and R Ulrich. 1994. Dispersal of chain lubrication oil in one-man chain-saws. Forsttechnische Information 11:121–123.

Skyberg, K, A Ronneberg, CC Christensen, CR Naess-Andersen, HE Refsum, and A Borgelsen. 1992. Lung function and radiographic signs of pulmonary fibrosis in oil exposed workers in a cable manufacturing company: A follow up study. Brit J Ind Med 49(5):309–315.

Slappendel, C, I Laird, I Kawachi, S Marshal, and C Cryer. 1993. Factors affecting work-related injury among forestry workers: A review. J Saf Res 24:19–32.

Smith, TJ. 1987. Occupational characteristics of tree-planting work. Sylviculture Magazine II(1):12–17.

Sozialversicherung der Bauern. 1990. Extracts from official Austrian statistics submitted to the ILO (unpublished).

Staudt, F. 1990. Ergonomics 1990. Proceedings P3.03 Ergonomics XIX World Congress IUFRO, Montreal, Canada, August 1990. The Netherlands: Department of Forestry, Section Forest Technique and Woodscience, Wageningen Agricultural University.

Stjernberg, EI. 1988. A Study of Manual Tree Planting Operations in Central and Eastern Canada. FERIC technical report TR-79. Montreal: Forest Engineering Research Institute of Canada.

Stolk, T. 1989. Gebruiker mee laten kiezen uit persoonlijke beschermingsmiddelen. Tuin & Landschap 18.

Strehlke, B. 1989. The study of forest accidents. In Guidelines on Ergonomic Study in Forestry, edited by E Apud. Geneva: ILO.

Trites, DG, DG Robinson, and EW Banister. 1993. Cardiovascular and muscular strain during a tree planting season among British Columbian silviculture workers. Ergonomics 36(8):935–949.

Udo, ES. 1987. Working Conditions and Accidents in Nigerian Logging and Sawmilling Industries. Report for the ILO (unpublished).

Wettman, O. 1992. Securité au travail dans l’exploitation forestière en Suisse. In FAO/ECE/ILO Proceedings of Seminar on the Future of the Forestry Workforce, edited by FAO/ECE/ILO. Corvallis, OR: Oregon State University Press.