Worker abuse in forestry industry ‘widespread’: report

February 20, 2013

Albany, CA – Worker abuse is “quite widespread” in the forest ecosystem restoration industry, and unsafe working conditions and “routine” violations of labor laws are common, according to a report (.pdf file) from the Alliance of Forest Workers and Harvesters.

Surveys conducted in partnership with the Labor Occupational Health Program at the University of California, Berkeley, were sent to immigrant, Spanish-speaking forestry workers in Oregon – 150 completed surveys were returned. Results, published online Feb. 13, showed:

  • 40 percent of workers said they had suffered an on-the-job injury in the previous 12 months, but depending on the nature of the injury, between 25 and 58 percent of the injuries were not reported. The main reason given for not reporting injuries was fear of being fired.
  • Only 39 percent of respondents reported receiving safety training.
  • One-third of workers reported either having to buy their own personal protective equipment or had deductions taken from paychecks for PPE.
  • 80 percent of respondents reported verbal abuse, with 25 percent reporting being harassed, bullied or threatened.

The report listed several recommendations to help improve worker safety, including increased enforcement, fully funded training programs for workers, and policy changes to ensure employers do not circumvent training requirements.