December 1999 6700 9967-2352-MTDC
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New Health and Safety Code Handbook

Chuck Whitlock, Project Leader

The Forest Service’s 1999 Health and Safety Code Handbook is intended to help ensure a safe and healthful workplace by instituting procedures and practices that help prevent accidents, injuries, and illness. It sets the safety and health standards for the Forest Service and complies with regulations of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The Handbook is also the primary reference for Job Hazard Analyses and is an excellent tool for tailgate safety sessions.

The Health and Safety Code Handbook was last updated in 1979. This handbook reflects the most current safety procedures from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Department of Transportation (DOT), and the National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG). The Health and Safety Code Handbook will be available in two sizes, a 4- by 7 1/2-inch field version and a full-size electronic copy for use in the office. Figure 1 Handbook

Let’s take a minute and go over the organization of the Health and Safety Code Handbook. Once you understand the format, you will greatly enhance your ability to use the Handbook in preparing Job Hazard Analyses and in conduc-ting tailgate safety sessions.

Parts of Each Chapter

Authorities/Standards: Authorities and standards are the laws we are directed to follow. The primary authority is the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Other authorities and standards are provided by the National Fire Protection Association, Department of Transportation, and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Each chapter provides you with the appropriate authorities and standards.

Responsibility: Each chapter or a specific project or activity may have responsibilities cited that the line officer, supervisor, and employee must follow. For example, supervisors have the responsibility to ensure that tools remain in a safe condition through periodic inspection and repair. For a safe work environment, everyone must know his or her responsibilities.

Qualifications: Every project or activity shows qualifications that employees must meet before implementing a project. Examples of qualifications are those for a qualified tree climber, certified chain saw operator, or red-carded firefighter. The required qualifications should be listed in the job hazard analysis so employees are aware of the requirements for the projects and activities they are expected to accomplish.

Training: Each chapter contains the training required for each project or activity. Training might include First Aid/CPR, Chain Saw Operation, Hazardous Communication Training (Right to Know), and Motorized Heavy Equipment and Vehicle Operation. Training must be completed before the project or activity can begin.

References: Each chapter has a reference section with additional publications and sources of information on safety procedures, responsibilities, qualifications, authorities, and training.

Personal Protective Equipment: Each project or activity includes a list of required Personal Protective Equipment. An example for chain saw operations would be:

Procedures: Many projects or activities have established procedures that employees must follow. These procedures are outlined in each chapter. If no procedures are established for a particular activity, they must be determined (as required by the Handbook) and documented on your job hazard analysis.

Safety Practices: Many of the projects and activities in the handbook have information on safety practices. These practices need to be followed to accomplish the project safely. When safety practice information isn’t available in the Handbook for a specific project, you have the responsibility to document safety practices that will be followed on the project job hazard analysis. You can always add additional safety practices that will enhance the safety of your project.

The verbs must or shall in the Health and Safety Code Handbook mean that every employee must follow the direction. Compliance is mandatory. “Should” conveys required compliance, except where justifiable circumstances make compliance optional because there is no threat to worker safety or health. “May” and “can” convey optional compliance.

An Important Note

Any sentence within the Health and Safety Code Handbook that is in bold italics type indicates that a fatality has resulted due to a failure to comply with a standard operating procedure or safety practice.

Zero Code:
This section discusses the authorities and standards by which we operate. It states the safety responsibilities of line officers, first-line supervisors, work leaders, and employees. You must be aware of your safety responsibilities and comply with them to ensure not only your own health and safety but that of everyone who works with you.


Line officers are responsible for the health, safety, and training of employees. All job hazard analyses must be approved and signed by the appropriate line officer.

First-line supervisors are responsible for identifying job-related hazards and eliminating potential causes of accidents, injuries, and illnesses at work sites to the best of their ability by:

  1. Considering an employee’s identified personal, physical, and mental condition when assigning duties.
  2. Knowing the type of equipment being used and its limitations.
  3. Preparing a job hazard analysis (JHA) with involved employees for each work project or activity (FSM 6713, Form-FS 6700-7, or equivalent). Employees may request review of a job hazard analysis with their supervisor at any time.
  4. Eliminating unacceptable risks by inspecting the work project or activity and by identifying, evaluating, correcting, and following up on recognized hazards.
  5. Conducting “tailgate safety and health sessions” to emphasize precautions identified in job hazard analyses.
  6. Making inquiries into all incidents, accidents, and injuries that they observe or that are reported to them and following through with the appropriate investigation and corrective actions (FSM 6731).

Work leaders are responsible for:

  1. Assisting in development of the job hazard analysis.
  2. Distributing and balancing workloads in their crews.
  3. Providing new crew members with on-the-job training.
  4. Ensuring crew members engage in safe work practices.

All employees are responsible for:

  1. Informing their supervisor of any personal, physical, or mental condition that could compromise the safety or health of the crew or themselves.
  2. Complying with the job hazard analysis and the established safety and health procedures and practices.
  3. Taking the initiative for their own safety and health by pointing out unsafe conditions and unsafe work practices.

The Zero Code also contains information on accident investigation and reporting.

Chapter Summaries

Chapter 10—Travel

Figure 2 bicycle

This chapter covers all items of travel that apply to your specific projects or activities, such as activities involving motor vehicles, specialized equipment (snowmobiles, ATV’s, motorcycles), aviation, watercraft, livestock, bicycles, walking, hiking, and backcountry and winter travel. Once you determine the types of travel used in your project or activity, you can refer to this chapter for the qualifications and training that may be required as well as for any required personal protective equipment.

Chapter 20—Work Projects and Activities

Figure 3 Firefighter

This chapter outlines the requirements for all resource management projects and activities. Examples of projects and activities include fencing, campground cleanup, thinning with chain saws, and fire suppression. This chapter outlines the qualifications, training, personal protective equipment, procedures, and safety practices for each activity. Some projects or activities do not have procedures or safety practices information cited within the Health and Safety Code Handbook. You will need to develop those procedures or practices when you prepare the job hazard analysis for the project. You can also add any additional procedures and safety practices to your project job hazard analysis that you feel will add to the safety of the project.

Chapter 30—Facilities

Figure 4 Extension cord

This chapter covers projects that involve facilities construction work, walking and working surfaces, fall protection, means of egress, fire prevention, fire protection, electrical standards, occupational health and environmental controls, general environmental controls, and facilities safety.

Chapter 40—Equipment and Machinery

Figure 5 work

Much of our project work requires tools. This chapter provides information on handtools, power tools, heavy equipment (such as forklifts, backhoes, and tractors), and general equipment develop-ment. This chapter provides valuable information on the appro-priate use of tools and the personal protective equipment needed when operating them. It also provides direction on the operating limita-tions of tools and on the inspection procedures, care and cleaning, and safety practices that should be followed when using them.

Chapter 50—Employee Safety, Security, and Health

Figure 5A Plants

This chapter provides direction on employee security, which has become a serious issue in recent years. Information is provided on employee health issues such as the bloodborne pathogen program, hepatitis B vaccinations, ergonomics, and plant, animal, and insect hazards. This chapter discusses environmental hazards as extreme cold, lightning, thunderstorms, and tornadoes. Various topics concerning temporary camps can also be found in this chapter.

Chapter 60—Hazardous Materials

Figure 6 lab safety

Topics covered in this chapter include the storage, dispensing, transportation, disposal, marking, and labeling of all types of hazardous materials. The chapter also provides direction on explosives and blasting agents. It includes information on laboratory and greenhouse safety. The unique properties of hazardous materials require that all employees who work with them have a general awareness of the dangers they present.

Chapter 70—Job Hazard Analysis and Personal Protective Equipment

Figure 7 form

This chapter gives an example of a completed job hazard analysis. It provides a good template when you are preparing a job hazard analysis for the first time. This chapter also contains a reference section on personal protective equipment (PPE), citing the PPE requirements for over 70 projects.

Glossary and Index

The Health and Safety Code Handbook contains a glossary of terms and an index for easy referencing.

The Missoula Technology and Development Center is working on a project to automate preparation of the job hazard analysis form over the Forest Service’s internal computer network. The project is scheduled for completion in FY 2000.


The new Health and Safety Code Handbook is an extensive update of the previous version. It’s an excellent tool to protect the safety of our employees, volunteers, contractors, and public that we serve. As line officers, supervisors, and employees we need to add our commitment to our safety program and comply with the procedures outlined in the Handbook.

Remember that each time you see bold italics type in the handbook an employee died because a safety procedure was not followed. This should serve as a constant reminder of the importance of taking the time to do the job safely. Every job that we do has the potential for an injury. Your commitment to doing the job safely can help to eliminate that potential.


The Technology and Development Centers are grateful to the many Forest Service employees who shared their ideas and participated in the development of this Handbook.

In addition, we would like to provide special recognition to the following people or groups who reviewed the draft manuscripts and helped prepare the final document: The Safety Managers of the Regions, Stations, Northeastern Area, and the International Institute of Tropical Forestry; MTDC employees Ted Cote; Bob Hensler; Gary Hoshide; Jerry Jeffries; Bert Lindler; Sara Lustgraaf; Dick Mangan; Chuck Whitlock; and Jerry Taylor Wolf; Rod Nielsen, Bitterroot National Forest; Frank Quintana, WO-HRM-Safety; Ron Wilson, WO-HRM-Safety; members of the National Safety Steering Committee Gary Benes; Larry Durk; Gary Morrison; Scott Vail; and Joyce Zifko; Sonja Beavers, WO-Engineering; Sandra Grimm, WO-Engineering; Sue Super, WO-IRM-Directives; George Avalos, USDA.

About the Author

Chuck Whitlock is the Safety and Health Specialist at the Missoula Technology and Development Center. He has worked on the Cleveland, Plumas, Fremont, and Wallowa-Whitman National Forests. Before coming to MTDC in 1998, Chuck was a Zone Fire Management Officer on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest.

Additional single copies of the Health and Safety Code Handbook can be obtained from:
Landover Warehouse, OO
Central Supply
3222 Hubbard Road
Landover, MD 20785

Orders should be placed using form AD-14 and the form number block should be completed with FSH 6709.11.

An electronic version of the Health and Safety Code Handbook is available from the Forest Service Directives Home Page on the Intranet (FS web) at:

Additional single copies of this Tech Tip may be ordered from:

USDA Forest Service
Missoula Technology and Development Center
Building 1, Fort Missoula
Missoula, MT 59804-7294
Phone: (406) 329-3978
FAX: (406) 329-3719

For further technical information, please contact Chuck Whitlock at the address above.

Phone: (406) 329-3924
Fax: (406) 329-3719

An electronic copy of this Tech Tip is available on the Forest Service’s FSWeb Intranet at:

The Forest Service, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), has developed this information for the guidance of its employees, its contractors, and its cooperating Federal and State agencies and is not responsible for the interpretation or use of this information by anyone except its own employees. The use of trade, firm, or corporation names in this document is for the information and convenience of the reader and does not constitute an endorsement by the Department of any product or service to the exclusion of others that may be suitable.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, and where applicable, sex, marital status, familial status, parental status, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, political beliefs, reprisal, or because all or part of an individual’s income is derived from any public assistance program. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs.) Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) should contact USDA’s TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TDD). To file a complaint of discrimination, write to USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410, or call (800) 795-3272 (voice) or (202) 720-6382(TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.



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