Jukka Valtoaho from Metsäkoneet Valtoaho meets visitors at harvesting sites every once in a while, more often in the summer. Understandably, fewer visitors venture out in the forest in the winter.
“Most visitors are forest owners who want to see how harvesting is proceedingwww or discuss some work details, such as retention trees or other important things to keep in mind. Neighbouring forest owners can also pop in, and in the summer and autumn we are likely to come across people looking for berries and mushrooms,” Jukka says.
Visitors are welcome
“In this job, we mostly work on our own. Talking with forest owners often helps clarify things that we probably wouldn't otherwise think of. Expectations and wishes are best discussed face to face.”
“Forest owners will have been walking their lands for years and know every nook and cranny, but most often I am in the area for the first time.”
“I am happy to talk about my work with people passing by.”
Let the workers know of your visit beforehand
Machine operators, in particular, appreciate being told about visits beforehand.
“Wearing a safety vest is very important,” Jukka points out.
“Only about half of visitors notify us of their arrival before coming. This needs to change. My phone number is easy to find on the roadside sign at the harvesting site. If you give me a call, I can keep an eye out for you and turn off the machine so that you can approach safely.”
“People use safety vests more now, and that is a good thing. A lot of berry-pickers use them too, and for me they are easy to notice. When I work, I focus on the harvested trees and machine functions.”
Wait at a safe distance until the machine is turned off
Do not come closer than 90 metres if the machine engine is running. Only move nearer once the engine is turned off, the bucket is on the ground and the operator opens the cabin door. You can help the operator notice you by giving clear hand signals.
“Felled trees can be very tall, up to 20 to 30 metres, and can take other nearby trees down with them when they fall. In the worst case scenario, this could result in a domino effect.”
“Likewise, tree tops and branches may extend quite a way during debarking and sawing, and anyone approaching the harvesting site and machines must keep this in mind to avoid being crushed by falling trees.”
Other situations that can potentially involve lethal risk are chain shots, which can happen when a saw chain breaks suddenly during use and chain pieces shoot around with great force. Luckily this is quite rare, but still a possibility. These pieces can pierce Moto panels, tyres or reinforced windows. At worst, chain shots can cause death.
“I have experienced this but luckily the shot didn't go through the window of my Moto but only left a big dent on the bonnet,” Jukka recounts.
Operators can prevent chain shots from hitting the Moto by ensuring that chainsaw blades do not point toward the Moto.
Do not climb on wood piles
It may be tempting to climb on a wood pile at the roadside to admire the scenery. Never do this though, as fresh logs are slippery and may easily start rolling down. A collapsing pile of logs can crush people and even cause death.
Safe visits at harvesting sites
- Inform the machine operator of your visit. You can find his phone number on the sign at the edge of the site.
- Always use a reflective safety vest to make sure you are easier to see, even if the forest is a rainy and getting darker.
- Keep a safety distance of 90 metres to harvesting machines, and 20 metres to forestry tractors and timber trucks.
- Use a helmet in areas where there is a risk of falling objects.
- Do not climb on wood piles.