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New Safety Procedures for Brush Harvesters

January 16, 2013

To keep floral greens brush harvesters safe and following the rules, the state Department of Natural Resources has been working with a Shelton group that supports the immigrant workers called ‘Inmigrantes Unidos de Shelton,’ as well as the US Forest Service and private forest landowners.

The floral greens market includes a small army of workers that harvest salal, ferns and other greens throughout the year. They harvest from trust land forests managed by DNR, and other forest ownerships as well.

DNR sells a harvester a yearly permit to specific area of forested state trust lands along with the rules. But many of the harvesters have minimal English language skills. This has led to misunderstandings about the permits and safety issues. Harvesters also experienced incidents that showed the need for better safety measures across Western Washington.

The challenge was, how to keep non-English speaking forest workers safe, and following the rules, and the answer was by communicating graphically, with words in a supporting role.

DNR has several new safety items to hand out to workers in the woods so they will more clearly seen by hunters, target shooters and drivers on forest roads. These include: an booklet that fits into a pocket with one side showing key messages, and the other side displaying an attention grabbing “Workers in forest” text that can be posted on the back window of the harvester’s vehicle. A metal sign letting forest visitors know about the activity, and posters for educating brush harvesters about the need of wearing bright-colored clothes, purchasing necessary permits, and following the rules.

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