Background: Logging remains one of the most hazardous industries in the United States, despite many safety improvements made in the last decades. Currently, we know little about regional trends in health conditions of logging workers, especially in the Northeast. However, the forest products industry is a critical component of the Northeast's economy, especially in the State of Maine.
Methods: This paper reports on the baseline data of a longitudinal cohort study involving Maine loggers, aimed to assess the health and safety of the industry.
Results: Three hundred twenty-five are included in these analyses, 246 mechanized loggers, and 79 conventional. On average mechanized loggers worked longer days (11.8 vs 9.7 hours) and had longer commutes from home to the woodlot (72.6 vs 40.7 minutes) than conventional loggers. For health factors, mechanized and conventional loggers had similar responses. Nearly two-thirds of both mechanized and conventional loggers had an annual physical in the previous year, and 36.3% had seen a health specialist during that same time period. The overall work-related injury and illness rate is 6.8 of 100 workers for this cohort.
Conclusions: These factors contribute to a need to work with the community on transforming logging into a safer and healthier profession for the current workforce, as well as the workforce of the future. This study provides the basis for an appropriate intervention, in collaboration with the loggers and industry stakeholders, to improve the lives of these vital workers.
Keywords: Maine; forestry; health; logging; longitudinal cohort; occupational epidemiology; safety.
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