Extended Working Hours in the Southeastern Logging Industry
Type of DegreeDissertation
Forestry and Wildlife Sciences
MetadataShow full item record
Logging business owners are exploring the ways to reduce equipment costs. Although shift work is common in some other industries, it is not common in the logging industry in the southeastern United States. Implementation of shift work in logging may be generically referred to as “extended working hours” because some logging business owners are using longer than traditional working hours, while others are actually using two shifts in a 24-hour period. The human factor impacts and financial considerations for implementing extended working hours were investigated by interviewing logging business owners in the southeastern states. Logging business owners interviewed include those who are currently using extended working hours, and those that have tried extended working hour schedules and quit using them. Several different types of schedules were found. Some logging business owners offered rotating shifts, some offered permanent shift assignments, and others offered long day-only schedules. Most scheduled fewer than 24 hours/day, but a few implemented 24-hour schedules. Past studies have shown that extended working hours can have physiological and psychological impacts on workers. Logging business owners reported high employee turnover rates when first implementing extended working hours. For safety purposes, most logging business owners either ordered equipment with manufacturer’s lighting packages, or added lights to existing equipment for working after dark. None of the logging business owners reported having any accidents in the woods by late shift crews. Nearly all of those interviewed reported slower production on the late shift as compared to the day shift. Slower skidder speeds, poor visibility, glare, and circadian misalignments could be responsible for the reduced production from the late shift. Financially, the choice of schedule and the equipment used on the late shift may impact the cost/ton produced. Most logging business owners did not schedule felling or hauling at night, resulting in 49% fewer workers on the late shift as compared to the day shift. The average production increase was 56% for those who tried and continued to implement extended work hour schedules. Cost differences were explored using two alternative shift schedules. Analysis indicates costs are sensitive to production. There is a potential for a 9.3% reduction in logging costs, but this is dependent upon the operating characteristics and shift hours employed. Extended working hours may be a viable option for increasing production in the southeastern states. Outside support from wood suppliers and markets are important for successful implementation of extended working hour schedules.