A Theory on Crosscut Saw Certification

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A Theory on Crosscut Saw Certification

Postby trailcrew » February 8th, 2016, 10:27 am

As a continuation of the side-topic started on "A Response to a Study on Crosscuts" regarding saw certs, I'd like to posit a theory about crosscut certification with government agencies. Most of us have at some time dealt with the hassle of obtaining an S-212 certification from the USFS so we can use saws to maintain trails. I recently had a meeting with Daniel Boone National Forest in Kentucky about doing some saw work out there this spring. With my Game of Logging, MTDC, various non-profit equivalent S212s, and an NPS cert, I was still not allowed to run a saw on their forest without their certifier signing off on me. That was until we pointed out that our organization carries its own health and liability insurance and the USFS would not be liable for any accidents or damages surrounding our saw use. Then they had no problem with us running any type of saw. We get similar responses from NPS, Fish and Wildlife, and state agencies.

So here's my theory: As volunteers, folks usually sign something like a "volunteer service agreement" which essentially commits the government agency to providing worker's comp-like benefits should the volunteer be injured. That's where all the certification business stems from. Individuals using chainsaws or crosscuts to harvest firewood on USFS property sign no such agreement and therefore don't have to carry any certificate or receive any training. So it seems like instead of talking to FMOs and land managers about using saws on government land, we actually need to be talking to their legal people.
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Re: A Theory on Crosscut Saw Certification

Postby Crosscut Sawyer » February 9th, 2016, 1:34 pm

If you enter into a Challenge Cost Share or a Participating Agreement, rather than a Volunteer Agreement, you should be able to utilize your organization's own insurance. There is usually a requirement that you provide "training" to your sawyers, but they don't require it to be S-212 or equivalent.
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Re: A Theory on Crosscut Saw Certification

Postby Jim_Thode » February 10th, 2016, 12:14 am

There is a move afoot to standardize the FS certification system nation wide. As it is now if varies from district to district and region to region. The proposed policy was out for review a little over a year ago. You can see the proposal at:
https://www.federalregister.gov/article ... ram-policy

With a formalized and standardized system it would be more likely the different land manager would accept it. In region 6 we BCHW volunteers certify our own sawyers and most other federal and state land managers accept our program.

The other interesting issue that was raised is that volunteers that are considered the same as employees have to be certified and follow all the safety rules. Yet as was mentioned firewood cutters and even recreational saw users have absolutely no requirements to be certified, use any PPE's or follow any safety requirements. On the surface that may sound like a contradiction. However the same thing happens in other recreational activities, can you image what the OSHA requirements would be for some of the recreational rock climbing that goes on. Employees are covered by workman's comp and non-employee recreationalist may be covered by there own personal insurance or no insurance, no one really cares.

I believe that it would make sense for trail clearing volunteers to be treated the same way. They should have the option to play by the rules as an employee and be covered by insurance or accept all responsibility and be foot loose and fancy free as other non-employees are.

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