State programs Agriculture, forestry and fishing Injury prevention

‘Cell Phone Distractions’: Washington state SHARP Program issues hazard brief for logging industry

Worker cutting tree

Photo: Josef Mohyla/iStockphoto

Tumwater, WA — The Washington state Safety & Health Assessment & Research for Prevention Program has released a Hazard Brief warning logging industry employers and workers of the dangers of cellphone-related distractions.

SHARP, a Washington State Department of Labor & Industries research program, highlights three cellphone distractions that make logging work “even more dangerous”:

  • Looking at a cellphone could result in a hazardous situation not being recognized “until it’s too late.” Workers are encouraged to keep their eyes on the load of logs, also known as the turn, at all times.
  • Playing loud music on a cellphone can make radio communications difficult, and may prevent workers from hearing warning whistles or signals.
  • The presence of a cellphone can divide a worker’s attention. Cellphones should be stowed away when operating equipment.

Logging workers had the highest fatal injury rate in the nation in 2015 – 132.7 fatal injuries per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Fishers and related fishing workers ranked second, at 54.8 per 100,000 FTE workers.


SHARP recommends that employers create company policies to reduce the risks of cellphone distractions. Policies should clearly state if, when and how cellphones may be used on the jobsite (e.g., only in case of an emergency).

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