Felling tree on co-worker warrants suspension, not firing

Forestry worker didn’t follow exact safety procedure but did care about safety: Arbitrator
By Jeffrey R. Smith
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 09/05/2012

A lengthy suspension was more appropriate discipline rather than termination for a British Columbia forestry worker who didn’t properly check to see if his partner was clear of a tree he felled, an arbitrator has ruled.

Cliff Cyr, 49, was a certified tree faller for Western Forest Products, a lumber and forest management company based in Vancouver. Cyr started working for Western in 1982, becoming a faller in 1997. Between 1992 and 2002 — a period during which Cyr had problems with drugs and alcohol — Cyr received several warnings and a three-day suspension for unsafe work practices and unauthorized absences. Cyr overcame his problems, though he had a relapse in 2010 when he received another three-day suspension for harassing other employees and damaging equipment. He attended counselling following that incident.

On March 29, 2012, Cyr and two other Western employees were assigned to an area to fall a tree that had been reported as dangerous to operations. When they arrived at the site, Cyr and one of the others walked up to the tree and worked out the best way to cut it down. Cyr began cutting with a chainsaw and the co-worker helped by tapping in wedges, then moved into a precut getaway trail..