Doug Duncan Raises the Profile for Safety

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The Forest Resources Association recognizes North Carolina Forestry Association staffer for leading the effort to increase logging safety awareness and training.

When Doug Duncan joined the staff of the North Carolina Forestry Association in 1993 to begin developing the statewide logger training program, he only expected to be with the association for a year. Somehow, things didn’t work out quite the way he planned. He’s still there, and earlier this year he was honored by the Forest Resources Association (FRA) with its annual safety award in recognition of the NCFA’s unique statewide logger safety initiative.
In 1993, three companies each donated the services of one employee to the NCFA for a three-year commitment to develop a statewide logger education program. “Each company was going to give a person plus a vehicle and all expenses for one year,” Doug explained. “For instance, International Paper was going to give a person for one year, then the second person would come on board to carry on the work, and then the third person would come on board. The program was to be about safety, but also about all of logger education.”
For the first year, International Paper donated the services of Doug, and he joined the NCFA staff. By the end of the first year he had accomplished so much that the NCFA revised the way the program. “The Association made me an offer to come on board with them to continue the work, rather than bringing in a second and a third person,” Doug said. “I’ve been here ever since.”
At the beginning of the program, the mission was to establish a formal logger training program that would emphasize the ‘three-legged stool’ of training, which includes safety, business management and environmental compliance. Doug developed the ProLogger Program, which became the NCFA’s flagship program, reaching nearly 4,000 loggers.
“The challenge was to bring all the resources together,” he said. “That included this association, large companies, small companies, landowners, loggers, sawmills, paper mills, equipment vendors — the whole range of people who have links to forestry. We worked very closely with public agencies that shared similar visions, particularly in safety.”
What is remarkable about Doug’s accomplishment in pulling all these resources together and developing the ProLogger Program was that he had it in place within six months.
Soon he had developed an implementation mechanism through the state community college system that provides financial support to the program, pays instructors, and provides high-quality facilities for instruction. It was the first statewide logger training program to be organized this way.
“By running the program through the community college system, we were able to put it out in 58 locations around the state,” Doug said. “The community colleges are in the business of educating adults, and they’re well positioned to do something like this.”
Today, 10 years later, the program is still going around the state. And associations in other states have picked up aspects of the program and adapted it to their use.
“Our philosophy has been to make our materials available to any state that’s interested in adopting the materials or modifying them,” Doug said. “South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Virginia are using some aspects of the program. We’ve been approached in the past by Wisconsin, Maine, New York, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Florida is using part of the program. We’ve tried to keep an open door for folks to use our materials.”
After he had the ProLogger program in place, Doug’s next step was to develop a continuing education program that focused on improvement in other areas, such as trucking safety.
“Besides the ProLogger program, now we also have a formal program in defensive truck driver training, a volunteer truck inspection program, a U.S. Department of Transportation compliance workshop, a logger safety awareness workshop, and a water quality-harvesting regulations workshop,” Doug said. “All of these are formal programs that we conduct.”
One of the newest programs from the NCFA promises to provide improved emergency medical care for forestry workers injured in the woods. Pete Stevenson of Warrenton, N.C. designed the program and contacted the NFCA.
“The program is called Timber Medic,” Doug said. “As far as I know, this is the first time that the entire forest industry in a state has reached out to train emergency medical technicians and rescue workers. What we’re doing is training rescue squads across the state to respond to logger injuries in the woods. The theory is that if they understand the unique situations and unique injuries that our people have, and how to remove loggers from the woods, they can better respond.” As he has promoted Timber Medic, Doug has continued to build relationships with public agencies — this time with the North Carolina Office of Emergency Management Services and the N.C. Agromedicine Institute based at East Carolina University.
Another aspect of the Timber Medic program is the personal safety of rescuers themselves once they enter the woods. “The woods and accident scene can present a dangerous situation that they may have never encountered before,” Doug said.
“Typically they’ve been on the pavement all the time. So we train them in things like where to land helicopters for evacuation, personal safety as far as danger trees and walking conditions are concerned, and wearing the proper safety equipment. We land helicopters on actual logging jobs to practice loading patients. We’ve had a big response across the state to this program.”
Doug’s efforts have had an enormous impact on the nation’s forest safety programs, and FRA officials expect that they will continue to so in the future.
“Doug is one of the few guys at the state level who looks at the issues from a national perspective,” said Steve Jarvis, director of forestry programs for the FRA. “He serves the state of North Carolina very well. But his contributions go much beyond the state’s boundaries.”
The NCFA’s Web site has so much good information about logger safety and safety regulations that the FRA regularly refers to it in FRA materials, Steve noted.
“In fact, our national safety foundation, the Timber Harvesting and Transportation Safety Foundation, which is affiliated with our association, has given a grant to Doug so he can help put together the transportation safety-related regulations in their entirety so we can keep them on a web-based system,” he said.
The efforts of Doug and the NCFA have influenced federal regulations. “We’ve served on some national committees, particularly those on trucking safety, and had an impact there,” said Doug.
Even with all these programs rolling along so well, Doug doesn’t see his job as being finished.
“We will still continue to develop programs that our members think are warranted and needed,” he said. “We’re now looking at some new programs for logging site planning, harvest planning, and road construction layout. We’re continuing with spill response training for hazardous materials in the woods. There are all sorts of areas in the woods where additional training would be beneficial, and we still continue to build strong ties with public agencies in the state, whether that’s the Department of Labor, the North Carolina Highway Patrol, the community college system or the Office of Emergency Management Services.”
Doug said that the efforts and support of NCFA staff and committee members are part of what has made the ProLogger and other programs so successful.
“It’s a real pleasure to work with an association that’s as strong as this one is and that has such an interest in these things,” he said. “That’s been personally rewarding for me, to have an association that really appreciates that work that’s being done and that implements the programs. They’re the people who conduct the programs and get the information out.”
If he could look ahead and project where he would like the NCFA to be in 10 years, Doug said, he would like for loggers to see education and training as a part of their culture and business.
“I’d like for them to see education and training just like equipment maintenance is for them now,” he said. “I want them to see continuing education as an integral part of the improvement of their business. We’re keeping an open door about areas in which we can have an influence.”