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Assessment of Chainsaw Operators Training in Andalusia (Spain)

Copyright © 2017 by Croatian Journal of Forest Engineering
doi: 10.5552/crojfe.2022.1204
volume: issue, issue:
pp: 13
Author(s):
  • Ferreira María del Carmen Pardo
  • Caparrós Francisco Salguero
  • Castrillo Jesús Antonio Carrillo
  • Romero Juan Carlos Rubio
Article category:
Original scientific paper
Keywords:
chainsaw worker, learning requirements, occupational health and safety, labour risk, ABA International

Abstract

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The chainsaw, as a work equipment, is considered one of the most dangerous in the field of occupational health and safety. The chainsaw is especially used in the forestry sector, although it is also used in other different sectors such as agriculture, construction or gardening. This study was carried out using an ad-hoc questionnaire as a research tool in order to assess the weaknesses in the training received by workers who use chainsaws in Andalusia, Spain, since it has never been addressed before. To achieve the objective set, the questionnaire was completed by 378 operators working with chainsaw and their responses were analysed. The results of this study show that there are obvious shortcomings related to work with chainsaws in very significant aspects for the occupational health and safety. Of special importance is the lack of training detected on rescue techniques and work at height, since these are aspects of special risk for workers’ health that could cause accidents with severe injuries. Also, a common denominator in all aspects studied was the lack of safety inspections and the state of the equipment to be used. These results evidence that there is a need to regulate chainsaw operator training.

Assessment of Chainsaw Operators Training in Andalusia (Spain)

María del Carmen Pardo Ferreira, Francisco Salguero Caparrós, Jesús Antonio Carrillo Castrillo, Ana Isabel Marín García, Juan Carlos Rubio Romero

Abstract

The chainsaw, as a work equipment, is considered one of the most dangerous in the field of occupational health and safety. The chainsaw is especially used in the forestry sector, although it is also used in other different sectors such as agriculture, construction or gardening. This study was carried out using an ad-hoc questionnaire as a research tool in order to assess the weaknesses in the training received by workers who use chainsaws in Andalusia, Spain, since it has never been addressed before. To achieve the objective set, the questionnaire was completed by 378 operators working with chainsaw and their responses were analysed. The results of this study show that there are obvious shortcomings related to work with chainsaws in very significant aspects for the occupational health and safety. Of special importance is the lack of training detected on rescue techniques and work at height, since these are aspects of special risk for workers’ health that could cause accidents with severe injuries. Also, a common denominator in all aspects studied was the lack of safety inspections and the state of the equipment to be used. These results evidence that there is a need to regulate chainsaw operator training.

Keywords: chainsaw worker, learning requirements, occupational health and safety, labour risk, ABA International

1. Introduction

The chainsaw, as a work equipment, is considered one of the most dangerous in the field of occupational health and safety (Potočnik and Poje 2017, Robb and Cocking 2014, Enez et al. 2014, Cabeças 2006). So much so that, as assert Ambrosio et al. (2001), it is observed that the risk in the use of the chainsaw is of the order of 4 or 5 times higher than that of other risks in sectors such as agriculture.

This work equipment is used especially in specific sectors such as forestry, although it is also used in other sectors such as agriculture, construction or gardening (Hammig and Jones 2015, Cividino et al. 2012).

Despite the technological advances introduced in this work equipment, the inadequate training of workers in the use of the chainsaw continues to be one of the main problems (Albizu-Urionabarrenetxea et al. 2013). The most dangerous activity for operators is felling or cutting trees. Specifically, the three most common types of fatality are due to being hit by a tree or branch, slips and trips, and cut by the chainsaw (Robb and Cocking 2014).

Specifically, in Spain, work in the forestry sector shows a significantly higher accident rate than other high risk sectors. The workers who deal with the felling of trees are the most exposed to the risks in the forestry sector. These aspects reveal that forestry work is very dangerous (Robb and Cocking 2014, Albizu-Urionabarrenetxea et al. 2013, Lefort et al. 2003, Bell 2002, Peters 1991). In the semi-mechanised logging operations, the great majority of accidents are generally caused by chainsaws, not only in the logging phase (Albizu-Urionabarrenetxea et al. 2010, Neely and Wilhelmson 2006, Nieuwenhuis and Lyons 2002, Shaffer and Milburn 1999, Axelsson 1998, Peters 1991). The main risk factors that have been identified and studied in relation to the use of the chainsaw are related to experience (Wang et al. 2003, Lefort et al. 2003, Bentley et al. 2002, Shaffer and Milburn 1999), age (Neely and Wilhemson 2006, Wilhelmson et al. 2005, Thelin 2002, Salminen et al. 1999), seasonality and type of company (Picchio et al. 2010, Montorselli et al. 2010, Wang et al. 2003), frequency with which the chainsaw is used (Albizu-Urionabarrenetxea et al. 2013, Lilley et al. 2002), training (Cividino et al. 2015, Blombäck et al. 2003), use and maintenance of protective equipment (Albizu-Urionabarrenetxea et al. 2013), work technique (Thelin 2002, Salminen et al. 1999, Peters 1991), work at height (Tamboreno et al. 2015, Robb and Cocking 2014, Tamboreno 1989), use of winches (Bellmunt 1986) and intervention in emergency work (Robb and Cocking 2014).

Further, some of these detailed factors may result in workers being unduly exposed to unacceptable risks. In this context, the perception of risk is articulated as of vital importance in the use of this work equipment. Thus, it is essential that workers receive a good training that includes both the theoretical knowledge needed and practical exercises on work techniques (Albizu-Urionabarrenetxea et al. 2013). Similarly, it is important to improve the training content on occupational safety and health focused on the use of chainsaw that workers receive during general job training. In this way, as stated by authors such as Damalas et al. (2019) and Allman et al. (2017), lifelong education and training is a key element to reduce accidents. Likewise Landekić et al. (2018) stated that vocational training in modern forestry emphasises the introduction of specialised training in the use of a chainsaw, certified by accredited professionals in the field.

Regarding the training for chainsaw operators, there is no compulsory training in Europe for workers using a chainsaw in their work beyond the requirements set by Directive 2009/104/EC of 16 September 2009 concerning the minimum safety and health requirements for the use of work equipment by workers at work (European Parliament and of the Council 2009). Nonetheless, there is voluntary training regulated through Professional Qualifications and Professional Certificates. In this sense, specifically in Spain, there are vague mandatory specifications about the type of training, content and duration, just according to the direct translation of the EU Framework Directive (Pardo-Ferreira et al. 2017, Albizu-Urionabarrenetxea et al. 2010). Therefore, there are no minimum clear and concrete specifications of mandatory status concerning the skills and training that chainsaw operators should acquire in terms of safety and health. However, these specifications exist in the case of other dangerous equipment such as removable tower cranes, mobile cranes or various activities in the construction, metal industry, and even in work at height.

Therefore, the aim of this paper is to assess the weaknesses in the training received by chainsaw workers in Andalusia, Spain. To do this, based on the theoretical knowledge that these workers should receive, a questionnaire has been developed to evaluate the weaknesses in the training received by chainsaws workers, since, as Albizu-Urionabarrenetxea et al. (2010) indicated, it is an effective method in the collection of field data for the purpose of implementing the preventive programme. The results obtained will help to establish minimum mandatory training for chainsaw operators, filling the legal gap that currently exists in Spain. In fact, we believe that the findings of this research would be useful for future research focused on needs for the implementation of periodic safety training, the precise time to evaluate the transfer of training received by chainsaw operators as well as the characteristics of effective safety training.

This study has been developed by the University of Malaga as partner, along with other entities from various regions throughout Europe, within the project VET-SAFETY project 2014-2017 and the EU Erasmus + programme & ABA International.

2. Materials and Methods

This study was carried out using an ad-hoc questionnaire as a research tool. The following documents were used as the main sources of information in the questionnaire design:

Þ ABA International-European Chainsaw Standards (ABA 2012)

ü ECC 1: Chainsaw Maintenance & Crosscutting Techniques (Robb 2011a)

ü ECC 2: Basic Tree Felling Techniques (Robb 2011b)

ü ECC 3: Advanced Tree Felling Techniques (Robb 2011c)

ü ECC 4: Windblown & Damaged Trees (Robb 2011d)

Þ Doctoral dissertation by Albizu Urionabarrenetxea (2012): Diagnóstico de la seguridad en los aprovechamientos forestales a partir de registros empresariales, bases de datos oficiales y muestreos de campo: propuestas de actuación

Þ Professional forestry worker qualification AGA343_2, recognised by the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport, and its corresponding professional forestry worker certificate AGAR0108, recognised by the Spanish Ministry of Labour and Social Security (2011)

Þ The technical standards of the Spanish National Institute of Occupational Health and Safety, like those on Mobile lifting platforms (Tamboreno et al. 2015), Blocks and tackles, hoists and pulleys (Bellmunt 1986) and ladders (Tamboreno 1989).

From these selected sources of information, the essential skills of workers who use the chainsaw at work were obtained. Subsequently, these skills would be evaluated through a questionnaire focused on the training and practices that these workers currently have.

For this purpose, the questionnaire developed was assessed by a panel of experts, using the Individual Aggregate Method proposed by Corral (2009) to validate it. Thus, five experts were selected, two more than the required minimum. They used a previously adapted version of the evaluation form model proposed by Corral (2009). This form assessed general aspects of the questionnaire analysing clarity, coherence, language and bias of both the personal information requested and the open-ended questions and items. Finally, the necessary changes resulting from the evaluation were carried out and a final version of the questionnaire was obtained.

The questionnaire was divided into two parts. The first part comprised nine questions: The first four aimed at gathering information about the sociodemographic data of the sample of participating workers. The other five questions were open-ended ones to find out their experience working with a chainsaw; how they learned to use it; their general training; occupational health and safety training; and specific training in how to use a chainsaw. The second part comprised 25 items, assessed using a 5-point Likert scale to represent the following options: Always (5), Almost Always (4), Sometimes (3), Hardly Ever (2) and Never (1). These 25 items were divided into 7 different sections, as per Table 1.

Finally, a space was included at the end of the document for possible comments by the workers.

Table 1 Number of items and contents of each part of the questionnaire

Sections

Subjects

Number of questions or items

Total

Preliminary

section

Personal information

Sex

1

9 questions

Age

1

Type of company

1

Frequency of use of a chainsaw

1

Open-ended questions

Time worked with a chainsaw

1

Learning way of chainsaw use

1

General education

1

Training on health and safety

1

Training on use and operation of a chainsaw

1

Questionnaire

section

Personal protective equipment

3

25 items

Chainsaw

2

Work techniques

7

Work at height without mobile elevating work platforms

3

Mobile elevating work platforms (mewps)

5

Winches

3

Emergency

2

As for the workers who completed the questionnaires, they worked in Andalusia (Spain) and used a chainsaw in their work. They completed the questionnaires during their workday on a voluntary basis. All of them worked directly or indirectly for the Andalusian government entities, which collaborated in the present study by sending the questionnaire to the workers and providing them with enough time to complete it properly. Once the questionnaires were received, they were examined and some were discarded based on different reasons such as: they were incomplete, the respondent chose more than one answer for the same item, they gave almost all the same answers, the answers were exactly the same as those of a colleague or the worker indicated that they never used a chainsaw. In this way, initially 474 questionnaires were received. These were examined and 96 were discarded. Finally, 378 questionnaires were obtained that would be analysed to extract the main results. Thus, a descriptive analysis of the information collected in the questionnaires was carried out and correlations between variables were analysed.

3. Results

This section presents all the information extracted from the questionnaires received. In the first place, the analysis of personal information and open-ended questions are presented, which allow characterising the workers who participated in the study by filling the questionnaire. These results are portrayed in different tables, showing the number of cases in each category, percentage and frequency out of a total of 378 questionnaires that were analysed. Second, the results of analysing the 25 items included in the questionnaire are presented. For this purpose, means () and standard deviation () are also analysed. The »unknown« category shows the number of items not filled in by the respondents.

3.1 Preliminary Section: Personal Information and Open-Ended Questions

Regarding the personal information of the workers surveyed, results are shown in Table 2. Only three of the respondents were women. The respondents had an average age of 44, with almost half the respondents (48%) being aged between 40 and 49. Regarding the type of company where the surveyed workers perform their jobs, the results show that 95% of the workers were employed in the public sector. From the analysis of the frequency with which the workers used a chainsaw at work, it follows that most workers used chainsaws several months a year (53%).

Table 2 Results of items on personal information

Variable

Frequency

Percentage, %

Sex

Men

375

99.2

Women

3

0.8

Age

Unknown

5

1.3

20–29 years

5

1.3

30–39 years

79

20.9

40–49 years

182

48.2

50–59 years

100

26.5

More than 60 years

7

1.8

Type of company

Unknown

8

2.1

Private company

2

0.5

Public company

323

85.4

Public company and private company

10

2.7

Emergency services

27

7.2

Public company and self-employed

3

0.8

Public company and emergency services

5

1.3

Frequency of use of a chainsaw

Unknown

29

7.7

Daily

35

9.3

2 or 3 times a week

45

12

1 time per week

29

7.7

1 time per month

39

10.1

Several months a year

201

53.2

As for open-ended questions, the questions raised are presented in Table 3 as well as the results obtained in terms of their experience working with a chainsaw; how they learned to use it; their general training; occupational health and safety training; and specific training in how to use a chainsaw.

Table 3 Results of the items on open-ended questions

Variable

Frequency

Percentage, %

How long have you been working with a chainsaw?

Not defined/Unknown

34

9

10 years or less

91

24

Between 11 and 20 years

142

37.6

Between 21 and 30 years

103

27.3

More than 30 years

8

2.1

How did you learn to use a chainsaw?

Unknown

21

5.6

At work/the company

127

33.6

Training courses

119

31.5

Self-taught/alone/practicing

82

21.7

From a co-worker

16

4.2

From a relative

13

3.4

General education

Unknown

144

38.1

Basic education

46

12.2

Compulsory secondary education

5

1.3

Full secondary school

10

2.7

Professional training

16

4.2

Superior technician

19

5

University

8

2.1

Training company

40

10.6

Courses

90

23.8

Training on occupational health and safety (OHS)

Unknown

47

12.4

Received training in OHS

330

87.3

Not received training in OHS

1

0.3

Training on the use and operation of a chainsaw

Unknown

54

14.3

Received training in use and operation

of chainsaw

302

79.9

Not received training in use and operation

of chainsaw

22

5.8

The results show that 64.9% of workers had between 11 and 30 years of experience using a chainsaw. Also, it should be noted that only 31.5% of workers learned to use a chainsaw in training courses. In terms of their level of education, 23.8% did not indicate their level of education but just gave information on courses, for example, courses taught by training companies to improve the employability and knowledge of workers, by the Public Administration in Andalusia. Even 10.6% indicated the training given by the company where they currently worked or had previously worked.

Further, as shown in Table 3, 87.3% of the interviewees indicated that they had received occupational health and safety training and 79.9% indicated they had received some training on the use and operation of a chainsaw. The courses received consist of training in occupational health and safety, light machinery, accident procedures, fire extinction, safety in forestry work, first aid, preventive measures in forestry, civil and hydraulic works, vertical work, pruning at heights, mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs) and winches.

Table 4 shows the number of hours dedicated to occupational health and safety training by the workers who stated that they had received occupational health and safety training. Of the 378 operators working with chainsaw, 66 indicate they do not know the number of hours they have received in occupational health and safety training.

Table 4 Training devoted to occupational health and safety

Occupational health and safety training time

Frequency

Percentage, %

Not received training in OHS

1

0.3

Less than 25 hours

62

16.3

Between 25 and 50 hrs

69

18.2

Between 51 and 100 hrs

92

24.3

Between 101 and 150 hrs

17

4.6

More than 150 hrs

24

6.3

Unknown

66

17.5

Does not answer

47

12.5

Total

378

100

Meanwhile, as for the training in the use and operation of chainsaws, the workers that had received training on using a chainsaw mentioned having completed the following courses: professional chainsaw qualification; advanced chainsaw operator course; chainsaw operator course; chainsaw maintenance course; online chainsaw and scrub-clearing course; chainsaw and scrub-clearing course; safety in chainsaw tasks; cutting and processing of timber with chainsaws; reading manufacturer's instructions; and courses or conferences on international companies.

Table 5 shows the number of hours of training they received on the use and operation of chainsaws. Of the total workers surveyed (378), 57 say they do not know the number of hours of training they have received on the use and operations of chainsaws.

Table 5 Training in use and operation of chainsaws

Chainsaw training time

Frequency

Percentage, %

None

22

5.8

Between 1 and 50 hrs

159

42.1

Between 51 and 100 hrs

51

13.4

Between 101 and 150 hrs

16

4.2

Between 151 and 200 hrs

10

2.7

More than 200 hrs

9

2.4

Unknown

57

15.1

Does not answer

54

14.3

Total

378

100

3.2 Questionnaire Section

3.2.1 Personal Protective Equipment

Almost all respondents always use personal protective equipment (PPE); three out of four workers always inspect the state of personal protective equipment and two out of every three workers always carry out the maintenance of their personal protective equipment, as shown in Table 6.

Table 6 Results of items on personal protective equipment

Please indicate how often you perform the following tasks

Results of responses

Descriptive

statistics

Always

Almost always

Sometimes

Hardly ever

Never

Unknown

()

You use personal protective equipment such as a hard hat,

safety gloves, hearing protectors..., No., %

355

22

1

0

0

0

4.93 (0.25)

93.9

5.8

0.3

0.0

0.0

0.0

You inspect the state of the personal protective equipment,

No., %

290

65

20

1

1

1

4.70 (0.60)

76.7

17.2

5.3

0.3

0.3

0.3

You carry out maintenance to the personal protective equipment,

No., %

250

70

45

6

4

3

4.48 (0.84)

66.1

18.5

11.9

1.6

1.1

0.8

3.2.2 Chainsaw

As for the chainsaw itself, as shown in Table 7, over half the workers always carry out maintenance to it, two out of three always know how to sharpen the teeth of the chainsaw, and perform these tasks daily.

Table 7 Results of the items on the chainsaw

Please indicate how often you perform the following tasks

Results of responses

Descriptive

statistics

Always

Almost always

Sometimes

Hardly ever

Never

Unknown

()

You know how to sharpen the chainsaw teeth and do so daily,

taking into account the right angles, depth gauges, etc., No., %

231

52

56

14

19

6

4.23 (1.15)

61.1

13.8

14.8

3.7

5.0

1.6

You conduct maintenance operations to the chain catcher,

throttle trigger, spark plugs and air filters, chain brake and bar,

No., %

212

68

64

22

9

3

4.20 (1.07)

56.1

18.0

16.9

5.8

2.4

0.8

3.2.3 Work Techniques

With regard to the work techniques, Table 8 shows that the majority of the respondents always refuel the chainsaw away from the work area and never smoke while refuelling. In relation to the question of whether they carry the chainsaw over their shoulders without their scabbards, the average of this question is 1.27. As for the question of whether they cut with the chainsaw pointing towards their legs or body, the average is at 1.17. It should also be noted that only 43% of the workers always use the right felling method, 32.3% take regular breaks to avoid distractions and 40.5% sometimes cut the fallen tree using log length marks on the trunk to help. In addition, before felling, the majority (320) said that they plan an escape route depending on the type of tree and the way it falls.

Table 8 Results of the items on work techniques

Please indicate how often you perform the following tasks

Results of responses

Descriptive

statistics

Always

Almost always

Sometimes

Hardly ever

Never

Unknown

()

You refuel the chainsaw away from the work area and you

do not smoke while refuelling, No., %

302

41

15

3

16

1

4.61 (0.93)

79.9

10.8

4.0

0.8

4.2

0.3

You carry the chainsaw on your shoulder without the sheath

on it, No., %

9

7

14

19

327

2

1.27 (0.82)

2.4

1.9

3.7

5.0

86.5

0.5

Before felling, you plan an escape route depending on the

type of tree and way it falls, No., %

320

31

12

4

1

10

4.80 (0.56)

84.7

8.2

3.2

1.1

0.3

2.6

You use the right felling method, with the right auxiliary tools,

and you use hinges according to the diameter, appearance and

condition of the trunk, No., %

161

75

69

40

28

5

3.80 (1.29)

42.6

19.8

18.3

10.6

7.4

1.3

You cut with the chainsaw pointing towards your legs or body,

No., %

4

4

6

27

335

2

1.17 (0.60)

1.1

1.1

1.6

7.1

88.6

0.5

To cut up the fallen tree, you use log length marks on the trunk

to help you, No., %

62

57

153

40

61

5

3.05 (1.25)

16.4

15.1

40.5

10.6

16.1

1.3

You take regular breaks to avoid distractions, No., %

122

95

112

19

17

13

3.78 (1.10)

32.3

25.1

29.6

5.0

4.5

3.4

3.2.4 Work at Height without Mobile Elevating Work Platforms

In the case of work at height without lifting platforms or ladders, approximately two out of five workers always use lifelines, anchors, ropes, harnesses and retractable lanyards and they inspect their state before use. However, it was found that 15% of the workers use ladders when working with chainsaws, as shown in Table 9.

Table 9 Results of items on work at height without mobile elevating work platforms

Please indicate how often you perform the following tasks

Results of responses

Descriptive

statistics

Always

Almost always

Sometimes

Hardly ever

Never

Unknown

()

You use ladders when working with a chainsaw, No., %

3

10

47

29

204

85

1.56 (0.94)

0.8

2.6

12.4

7.7

54.0

22.5

When working at height without an elevating work platform or

ladder, you use anchors, ropes, harnesses and retractable

lanyards and you inspect their state before use, No., %

160

27

16

13

43

119

3.95 (1.54)

42.3

7.1

4.2

3.4

11.4

31.5

If you work at height without an elevating work platform or ladder,

you use a lifeline, No., %

147

33

16

11

43

128

3.92 (1.54)

38.9

8.7

4.2

2.9

11.4

33.9

3.2.5 Mobile Elevating Work Platforms

As shown in Table 10, just over half the workers always mark off the work area and always stay in the basket at all times wearing the harness and protective equipment, without exceeding the rated load and with the corresponding support. Just under half the workers stated that, when the platform is moving, they always ensure that they have clear visibility at all times and they adapt the speed and maintain safety distances. A similar number of workers (n=179) indicated that, before and after using the MEWP, they check the state of the safety devices and always park the MEWP properly after use.

Table 10 Results of items on work with mobile elevating work platforms

Please indicate how often you perform the following tasks

Results of responses

Descriptive

statistics

Always

Almost always

Sometimes

Hardly ever

Never

Unknown

()

Before and after using the mobile elevating work platform, you check

the state of the safety devices for any possible defects or faults, No., %

179

42

28

10

16

103

4.30 (1.15)

47.4

11.1

7.4

2.6

4.2

27.2

You mark off the working area to keep others away and to avoid high

voltage power lines, No., %

235

31

12

5

7

88

4.66 (0.83)

62.2

8.2

3.2

1.3

1.9

23.3

You stay inside the basket at all times, wearing the harness and

protective equipment, without exceeding rated load and with the

corresponding support, No., %

193

33

9

3

23

117

4.41(1.20)

51.1

8.7

2.4

0.8

6.1

31.0

When the platform is moving, you make sure you have clear visibility at

all times, you avoid reversing, and you adapt and limit the speed to the

terrain, always maintaining safety distances, No., %

179

35

9

3

23

129

4.38 (1.22)

47.4

9.3

2.4

0.8

6.1

34.1

After use, you park the platform with all everything turned off,

making sure it is completely immobile, clean and in its place, No., %

184

27

11

4

25

127

4.35 (1.27)

48.7

7.1

2.9

1.1

6.6

33.6

3.2.6 Winches

As for winches, over half the workers always inspect the state of winch ropes and chains, they always ensure clear communication with the operator handling the winch, and they always take all necessary steps to avoid injury or accidents.

Table 11 Results of items on winches

Please indicate how often you perform the following tasks

Results of responses

Descriptive

statistics

Always

Almost always

Sometimes

Hardly ever

Never

Unknown

()

You inspect the state of winch ropes and chains, No., %

200

37

15

4

13

109

4.51 (1.01)

52.9

9.8

4.0

1.1

3.4

28.8

You take all necessary steps to avoid cuts, scrapes,

entrapment, falls from height, falls of loads or collapses,

or an overturned support or anchor structure, No., %

227

32

8

0

9

102

4.69 (0.81)

60.1

8.5

2.1

0.0

2.4

27.0

There is clear communication with the operator handling

the winch, No., %

208

35

12

5

7

111

4.61 (0.86)

55.0

9.3

3.2

1.3

1.9

29.4

3.2.7 Emergencies

In this last section on emergencies, as shown in Table 12, two out of every three workers always know how to conduct rescue operations in the event of trapped, hurt or injured people and four out of five stated that there is always a first aid kit in the workplace.

Table 12 Results of items on emergencies

Please indicate how often you perform the following tasks

Results of responses

Descriptive

statistics

Always

Almost always

Sometimes

Hardly ever

Never

Unknown

()

You know how to conduct rescue operations in the case of

trapped, hurt or injured people (i.e. to provide assistance,

immobilise and move the victim to a safe area), No., %

243

57

29

6

6

37

4.53 (0.85)

64.3

15.1

7.7

1.6

1.6

9.8

There is a first aid kit in the workplace, No., %

300

37

10

1

9

21

4.73 (0.75)

79.4

9.8

2.6

0.3

2.4

5.6

3.3 Correlation Analysis

In order to test the correlation between the factors analysed, different hypotheses were proposed and studied using non-parametric tests. On the one hand, it was analysed whether the behaviour related to chainsaw use reported by the workers in the questionnaire was related to the age of the workers. For this, different age groups were established (20–29 years, 30–39 years, 40–49 years, 50–59 years and more than 60 years) and average variables of worker responses were calculated for each of the seven sections of the questionnaire. The results showed that there are a significant differences (p=0.05) in chainsaw use according to the age of the worker in terms of chainsaw maintenance (H de Kruskal-Wallis=9.843; p=0.043), work at height without mobile elevating work platforms (H de Kruskal-Wallis=10.466; p=0.033), mobile elevating work platforms (H de Kruskal-Wallis=15.625; p=0.004), winches (H de Kruskal-Wallis=18.679; p=0.001) and emergency (H de Kruskal-Wallis=14.551; p=0.006). However, no significant differences (p=0.05) by age were found in the case of the use of personal protective equipment (H de Kruskal-Wallis=0.881; p=0.927) and the work techniques applied (H de Kruskal-Wallis=3.035; p=0.552).

In addition, other correlations were explored. In this sense, it is noteworthy that it was found that, according to the information reported by the workers, there are significant differences (p=0.05) between the existence of a first aid kit in the workplace by type of company in which the worker claims to work (H de Kruskal-Wallis=17.568; p=0.004). However, there are no significant differences (p=0.05) in reported knowledge of emergency manoeuvres according to the periodicity of chainsaw use reported by the worker (H de Kruskal-Wallis=6.752; p=0.150) or the type of company in which the worker claims to work (H de Kruskal-Wallis=9.503; p=0.091).

A significant difference (p=0.05) was also found in the use of a lifeline in work at height, without an elevating work platform or ladder, according to the frequency of chainsaw use (H de Kruskal-Wallis=22.774; p=0.000). Thus, the more frequent the use of a chainsaw, the less frequent the use of a lifeline. However, no significant differences (p=0.05) were found in the use of anchors, ropes, harnesses and retractable lanyards and their inspection (H de Kruskal-Wallis=5.131; p=0.274). Finally, the use of ladders also showed a significant difference (p=0.05) with respect to the frequency of chainsaw use (H de Kruskal-Wallis=13.946; p=0.007). In this case, those who reported using ladders the least were the workers who used the chainsaw daily, while those who reported using them the most were those who reported using the chainsaw once a month or once a week.

4. Discussion

As for the analysis of the weaknesses in the training in chainsaw operation at work in Andalusia, Spain, work-related shortcomings have been detected in relation to the different aspects that were analysed. With regard to the personal information of the worker who uses a chainsaw analysed in the preliminary section, the results of the questionnaire show that 96% of the workers who participated in the study were between 30 and 59 years old, with 48% between the ages of 40 and 49. This is in line with the claims of other authors such as Blombäck et al. (2003), who indicated that this type of job is an unattractive for young people. Likewise, a significant correlation is found between the age of the chainsaw user and some of the main risk factors identified. It should also be noted that 10.1% of the respondents perform chainsaw operations at least once a month, 9.3% of them use it daily and 20% weekly. This last data seems to indicate the importance of the chainsaw in their work. In this sense, it should be considered that working hours have a great influence on the physical and mental state of workers (Albizu-Urionabarrenetxea et al. 2013, Lilley et al. 2002). The findings of this study show that 53.2% of workers used a chainsaw for several months per year. This could be due to the seasonal nature of the work with a chainsaw, which leads to the majority of workers not developing their activity continuously and permanently. In fact, previous studies coincide in pointing out this seasonality as a risk factor in performing chainsaw tasks (Picchio et al. 2010, Montorselli et al. 2010, Wang et al. 2003).

Further analysis of the personal information showed that 85.4% of the workers were employed in public companies. In principle, the fact that the company is public or private should not influence the use of the chainsaw in terms of safety. Nevertheless, Montorselli et al. (2010) found that public crews took significantly less risks and the riskiest ones were semi-private crews followed by private and consortium crews. According to the authors of that study, best safety performance by public crews could be related to the stronger commitment of public management to safety and to the fact that public organisations administered formal safety training to their crews. In line with this, in the specific case of this study, the majority of workers, who worked mostly in public companies, reported having received training in occupational health and safety and in use and operation of chainsaw. Despite this, there were deficiencies in the knowledge acquired by the workers in some subjects related to safety. For example, the results of this research show that only 31.5% of workers surveyed had learned to use a chainsaw on training courses. The rest had learned by themselves or from a co-worker in the company where they worked. It is important to note that, with regards to training and education, there is currently no minimum specific and compulsory training for the chainsaw workers. There is only the basic training in occupational safety and health defined by European Directive 89/391/CEE (European Council 1989) on the introduction of measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health of workers at work. Then, all workers using a chainsaw would have to know how to use it safely and how to comply with occupational health and safety legislation. To guarantee that this is fulfilled and to ensure that all workers who use the chainsaw have adequate training, it would be advisable to provide regular training in a common framework.

The second part of the questionnaire focused on analyzing the knowledge of the workers who use the chainsaw. This information could be helpful for the regulation of training in this regard. The results obtained in the questionnaire section have clearly demonstrated that almost all respondents always use PPE; however some respondents expressed that they did not use it correctly or even did not use it all the time. This data is confirmed by authors such as Albizu-Urionabarrenetxea et al. (2013), who argue that there is still a minority of workers who do not use the prescribed PPE. However, these same authors affirm that it would be essential to adapt the Personal Protection Equipment to the working conditions and improve the awareness of its correct use.

Regarding the use and maintenance of the chainsaw, almost 9% of the workers surveyed never or hardly ever perform the sharpening or maintenance of chain catcher, throttle trigger, spark plugs and air filters of the chainsaw and only 16.9% sometimes take it into account, thus confirming what was exposed by reference authors (Albizu-Urionabarrenetxea et al. 2013, Robb and Cocking 2014), who found an absence of proper maintenance of this equipment under controlled safety conditions.

When workers were asked about the techniques, the results showed obvious deficiencies related to the felling methods and bucking of felled trees. In short, in accordance with the theories of Thelin (2002), Salminen et al. (1999) and Peters (1991), one of the main causes of accidents with chainsaws is ignorance of the proper work techniques.

The highest rate of fatal accidents occurring in the use of chainsaw is due to falls at height (Robb and Cocking 2014). In the questionnaire section dealing with work at height without MEWP, MEWP and winches, the percentage of workers who did not respond was high when compared with the other sections, with a figure of between 22.5% and 34.1%. It was hypothesised that these workers do not work at height and do not use winches or MEWP, as indicated by some of them in their comments. Notably, even though the European Directive 2009/104/EC (European Parliament and of the Council 2009) prohibits workers from using a chainsaw on a ladder, it was found that 15% of the workers did so in their daily work. Even so, the results show that the more frequent the use of the chainsaw, the less frequent the use of the ladder.

Finally in the questionnaire section dealing with emergencies, the lack of knowledge regarding rescue operations is detected. The low response rate in the emergency section (9.8% gave no answer in the section on rescue and 5.6% on first aid kit) is not justified since all workers may be affected at some time by a critical situation in which they need to use the rescue operations or the first aid kit. Therefore, they must be trained to do so in order to be able to respond to these situations. Furthermore, the results obtained show a relationship between the existence of a first aid kit and the type of company where the interviewees work. There is no such a relationship between the type of company and the rescue operations in case of emergency.

The knowledge about safety emergency plan is very important because these documents contain all the information for proper safety and health management. For example, with the emergency plan, workers can know the evacuation routes that are essential in an emergency. Despite the importance of the need for proper planning and execution of emergency actions, authors like Robb and Cocking (2014) highlight that there is still not a regulated training in Europe for the chainsaw operations in rescue or emergency situations.

Therefore, a general common deficiency in all the aspects studied was the lack of safety inspections of both the state of the equipment, the work techniques and the PPEs to be used.

5. Conclusions

The purpose of this research was to determine whether occupational health and safety training in the use of the chainsaw as a work equipment is effective, and to identify their weaknesses in the training received by chainsaw workers. This particular aspect has not been addressed so far, so the findings of this research could offer original contribution by determining whether it could stimulate occupational health and safety implementation through the improvement of the weaknesses detected in the training of workers who use the chainsaw at work. Thus, learning performance and training transfer are significant measurement to determine training effectiveness because the main purpose of providing employee training is to increase employees’ knowledge, skills, and attitudes and finally use it to improve job performance.

The conclusions of this research indicate that the lack of training detected on rescue techniques and work at height is of particular importance, since these are the aspects of special risk for workers' health, which could lead to accidents with severe injuries. These results evidence that there is a need to regulate chainsaw operator training. With this study, a first step has been taken towards the identification of mandatory minimum competences for chainsaw workers. So, minimum compulsory training contents should be developed for workers who use chainsaws as work equipment, regardless of the industry they work in. Consequently, a training manual should be developed including all of these contents to be used as a reference document. This would be a significant improvement for the protection of chainsaw operators' health and safety.

Acknowledgments

Authors would like to acknowledge the support of the project VET-SAFETY project 2014–2017, »Vocational education & training standards in agriculture, forestry & environmental safety at heights«. The project is supported by the EU Erasmus + programme & ABA International. Also, we acknowledge to the Andalusian Government, the Junta de Andalucía, and, in particular, the Agencia de Medio Ambiente y Agua (AMAYA) and the Conserjería de Empleo, Empresa y Comercio, through the Diputacion Provincial de Málaga.

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© 2021 by the authors. Submitted for possible open access publication under the
terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

Authors’ addresses:

Prof. María del Carmen Pardo Ferreira, PhD

e-mail: carmenpf@uma.es

Prof. Francisco Salguero Caparrós, PhD *

e-mail: fsalguero@uma.es

Prof. Juan Carlos Rubio Romero, PhD

e-mail: juro@uma.es

University of Málaga

School of Industrial Engineering

Department of Business Management

C/ Dr. Ortiz Ramos s/n, Campus de Teatinos

29071, Malaga

SPAIN

Prof. Jesús Antonio Carrillo Castrillo, PhD

e-mail: jcarrillo3@us.es

University of Sevilla

School of Industrial Engineering

Department of Industrial Organization and Business Management II

Camino de los Descubrimientos sn

41092, Sevilla

SPAIN

* Corresponding author

Received: October 26, 2020

Accepted: February 28, 2021

Original scientific paper

Publishers:
Copublishers:

Web of Science Impact factor (2020): 2.088
Five-years impact factor: 2.077

Quartile: Q2 - Forestry

Subject area

Agricultural and Biological Sciences

Category/Quartile

Forestry/Q1