Evidence based harvest planning interventions for whole body vibration exposure in logging

Few if any logging contractors consider the health risk presented by exposure to whole body vibration in their safety and health plans for logging equipment operators. Compared to traumatic injuries the risk seems low and there are not clear, feasible interventions available. Since WBV exposure of most logging machines exceed levels with potential health risks, the primary intervention, limiting exposure, would appear to affect system productivity and firm income. However, operational parameters (travel distance, travel speed, and load size) in addition to operating time per day affect both productivity and WBV exposure. To help loggers understand WBV exposure I propose to link daily exposure for typical southern mechanized systems (wheeled feller buncher, grapple skidder, and knuckleboom loader) to daily production through an excel and web-based production model. I intend to develop a skidding production model using a meta-analysis of past skidding studies since available production models are typically useful for a limited set of operational parameters. Often the parameters do not explicitly consider the primary variables (travel distance, travel speed, and load size). The system model will allow users to evaluate operator WBV exposure based on daily production goals and help identify feasible operational changes to reduce exposure.