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spruceman

Logging Shows on TV

15 years ago

Suddenly there are several shows on TV showing loggers working. It started last year with Axe Men, and now this year there are a couple of new shows, and a second season of Axe Men. As a person who has done some logging at two or three different times in my life, first back in 1959 in Oregon working for the Weyerhauser Corporation, I want to make sure that any of you who are watching these shows dont get the wrong impression about logging and how loggers work.

The worst of these shows--actually they are not all bad--is Axe Men. This show shows loggers as people who have no idea about how to work together and show decent respect and consideration for their fellow workers. They canÂt say one sentence without a terrible streak of "bleeps," and although I have been known to use language at times that may require a "bleep" or two, what is portrayed on this show goes beyond anything I have ever done myself or seen on any logging job.

But the main issue here is the safety issue. Logging is inevitably a dangerous job, but some of the things shown on this program are so dangerous and careless is to be literally insane. I could write several pages of examples, but I will give just one from the show last night--airing, by the way, on the History Channel.

A "turn," a load of logs carried by two chokers, was brought to the landing. A man at the landing is assigned to unhook the chokers. Now what was shown last night, was that that man, for some reason--it is hard to understand how this could happen--failed to unhook one of the chokers. What happened next is beyond belief. The yarding engine operator just went full blast sending the chokers back down to the choker setters--with the log that was not unhooked still attached, endangering the lives of everyone it its path.

This couldnÂt happen in any kind of a sane logging operation. Why not? What I have always seen is when the chokers are unhooked--I spent a little bit of my time logging at just this job of unhooking logs--is that the yarding engine operator, after I have signaled that I have them unhooked, and have run clear, will very slowly pull the chokers free. After they are unhooked, the cable will still be wrapped under the log. The chokers should be pulled out slowly so the logs will not be pulled by the cable before it comes free, and thus dislodged from their position on the landing. Now the idea that a yarding operator would be going full blast on the engine and pull the chokers out so fast that he will have a log that is still hooked 100 yards down the hill crashing into the men there without noticing that anything is wrong is simply not possible in a sane world.

Please, please, donÂt let this show make you believe that loggers are one completely insane bunch of people. And they way the men on this show are always cursing each other and calling them out for any mistake they make is crazy. These shows show how "greenhorns" are brought onto crews. The way these new men are treated is ridiculous. They are made to hurry on jobs they are just learning and are berated for any kind of mistake, or not running fast enough, so they really canÂt concentrated on the jobs they are trying to learn--very dangerous jobs that if they make a mistake, could be costly to life and limb.

When I first started on the Weyerhauser job, I was treated with total respect and was instructed very clearly what to do, and if I made a mistake, was told exactly what my mistake was in a way that was never personally insulting. The men that supervised me knew clearly that I needed to be focused clearly on my work at all times and not distracted by some fear of, and/or resentment at, getting yelled at and humiliated.

Trust me, loggers are decent, intelligent people with a prime concern for safety. Loggers who cannot work together in peace and show each other respect, are a severe safety hazard, and I would think, promptly fired.

If the show is scripted in some way to include this nonsense with the idea of making it more exciting to watch, I am disgusted and resent the picture they are creating of loggers and the kind of people they are.

--Spruce

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