Since the age of 14, Greg Scranton has spent most of his time in the woods.
Having grown up in the logging industry, Scranton's approach to the business was shaped by his father, uncle, and grandfather. "I was young and wanted something to do. My uncle had a logging operation and he brought me on to handle small tasks like picking up branches," said Scranton, owner of GPS Logging Response in Rock Port, Illinois. "My uncle eventually trained me to use more difficult equipment, first chainsaws, then actual forestry equipment, but, the most important lesson was taking the time to teach me how to use equipment safely."
This early start in the industry cemented Scranton's belief in safety on the worksite. "I've seen a lot of loggers get injured while working due to small mistakes," noted Scranton. "It takes one wrong move to cause a serious accident." For that reason, it is crucial to work safely while they are out on the job.
The first step to being safe is choosing the right gear for the job. Scranton emphasizes this to all young loggers, urging them to wear boots and hardhats. By using the right gear, loggers can start out on a good foot for a safe workday.
In addition to making sure they are outfitted properly, Scranton says that loggers should ensure their equipment is in working order with regular inspections. Operators should perform routine inspections before and after operating their equipment. This includes checking windows and cab openings for signs of breaking, inspecting seat belts and harnesses, keeping fire extinguishers in a readily accessible location, and making sure to clean all equipment regularly with the correct solution to avoid larger repairs down the road.
Finally, Scranton believes that all loggers should go through supervised training sessions with experienced operators to learn how to properly use equipment and avoid potential accidents. "My uncle stood by me as I cut down my first 20 trees. For each one, he told me what I was doing right and wrong," said Scranton. "If an incident occurred, he would be able to navigate me through it." Scranton also encourages young loggers to attend educational classes. "In every class I went to I learned something that I didn't know before."
Since branching out from his uncle's business four years ago, Scranton has kept all of the advice he received close to heart and regularly refers back to his uncle for advice. "My uncle is great at what he does and I maintain a close relationship with him to this day. He is my go-to person for advice," said Scranton. "I believe if you are not learning something new every single day, then you need to stop what you are doing – and that’s what's so great about logging."
At John Deere, we commend young loggers like Greg Scranton, who have made a commitment to enhance the quality of the forestry industry through safe logging practices for generations to come.