Continued focus on safety for SCA’s timber truck drivers

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SCA Forest’s major training initiative to promote safer transport of timber could restart during the winter, following a break due to the pandemic. The focus this time is entirely on the truck drivers’ work environment outside the timber truck’s cab.

SCA’s unique training initiative goes under the name of “Inte en till” (No more accidents), and is about improving safety for timber truck drivers, to reduce the number of accidents involving timber trucks and to make timber transport safer. 

“Our timber is transported by approximately 70 haulers employing about 600 drivers. The drivers face many risks and our goal is that everyone should have a safe work environment,” says Lars Nolander, Logistics Manager at Forest. “Nobody should be injured or killed because we need to transport timber, it’s as simple as that.”

Greater awareness

“This is why we want to create greater awareness about the risks of working in a timber logistics chain. This is an important element in SCA’s sustainability focus when we can use our training initiative to contribute to a safer and more sustainable society.”

When “Inte en till” started in autumn 2019, focus was on driver behavior when driving, how they use seat belts and mobile phones and how stress and sleep can influence their work environment. In the second round of training, the focus was entirely on factors outside the cab that influence work as a driver.

“Drivers face many dangers when they step out of their cab. For example, how they step out of the cab, if it is icy, how they climb into the crane cab, how the landing looks and how they pull the chains over the timber load before departure,” says Lars.

Discuss various situations

The structure of the training program remains the same. The drivers meet in smaller groups in various locations in Norrland. The meetings are headed by an instructor from the National Society for Road Safety (NTF).

“New for this time is that we will also use some ten experts from different haulers who will also take part in the meetings. NTF’s instructors do not have a great deal of insight into the various tasks carried out by the drivers, and this is why it is so important to include people who have this knowledge. And again, 80 meetings will be held.”

During the meetings, the groups have discussed various situations and considered how they act and why, and what they can do differently to create a safer work environment.

“One thing discussed at several of the meetings was what people wear on their feet when they drive. Many drivers want to look after their trucks and want the cab to stay clean at the same time as it must be easy to climb in and out. That is why many wear clogs. But this is not ideal footwear, particularly if it is icy on the ground. We have seen serious accidents caused by drivers slipping,” says Lars and adds:

“If you are made aware of the risks and think twice, then you can work safer. I think the discussions have been an eye-opener for many.”

Set a good example

Lars has taken part in several of the meetings together with Jörgen Bendz, who is Wood Supply Manager at SCA Forest.

“It was appreciated and was also useful for us to hear the discussions. In the same way as drivers need to think about their behavior, SCA must also do its bit and take responsibility for our parts of the process. For example, we could become better at providing drivers with the right conditions by ensuring that the landings and turning areas are properly built and that they can clean their trucks after unloading a timber delivery.”

When all of the timber truck drivers have completed the training, the plan is to train those working at SCA’s timber terminals, as well as SCA’s employees who work at Wood Procurement.

“We can then merge both training initiatives,” says Lars Nolander. “Terminal personnel do not drive timber trucks but mainly forklifts and wheel loaders, but their work environment is very similar to the drivers’. Many personnel at Wood Procurement do a considerable amount of driving in a passenger car as part of their job, and it is important that we set a good example.”

Response from two drivers

Maggan Lodin and Åke Persson drive timber trucks for SCA via Ferm-gruppen in Sundsvall. They appreciated the training program.

“I thought the training was good because it reminded you of what you already know but do not always think about,” says Maggan Lodin. “It was good to be in a smaller group, so we could discuss things together. Perhaps some of the issues were less relevant. For example, I was asked what would I do if I forget my work clothes at home – but you don’t forget them as you put them on at home. But generally, the questions raised were important and there are always ways to improve safety. I have experienced risks when unloading timber and you must be very careful that you keep the right safe distance to the person working with the timber. It is very important to try to think before we act and be prepared.”

“The training was good. It is always important to be reminded of the risks, as it is easy to become complacent,” says Åke Persson. “The greatest dangers are probably during the winter, with the snow, darkness and icy conditions. When it is difficult to see, it is very easy to twist your ankle in a pothole and really hurt yourself. You must be careful. I appreciated the group discussions, it is more fun to reflect together. Some people perhaps felt they were being targeted by certain questions, but I think you have to see this as a learning process. There are always things that need improving when it comes to safety. It is important that everyone thinks about safety, as a driver who loads timber at a terminal and the person who unloads it at an industrial site. We are a team and work together.”