Public and private work together to protect brush harvesters’ safety

Safety poster for brush harvesters. Graphics: Luis Prado, DNR
Safety poster for brush harvesters. Design and graphics: Luis Prado, DNR

How do we keep non-English speaking forest workers safe… and following the rules? For Russian, Guatemalan or Cambodian-Khmer speakers that harvest floral greens in the deep woods, the forest can be a dangerous place.
So how do we communicate?
With words? Maybe.
With images? Definitely.

DNR has several new safety items to hand out to workers in the woods so they will more clearly seen by hunters, target shooters and drivers on forest roads. These include: an accordion-like booklet that fits into a pocket with one side showing key messages, and the other side displaying an attention grabbing “Workers in forest” text that can be posted on the back window of the harvester’s van. A metal sign letting forest visitors know about the activity, and posters for educating brush harvesters about the need of wearing bright-colored clothes, purchasing necessary permits, and following the rules.Some DNR-managed forested trust lands are selected for harvesting specialized forest products like salal and ferns—popular in the floral industry. Like other activities such as timber harvests, these activities bring revenue to build public schools and universities, and more.

Hundreds of ‘brush harvesters’ purchase a permit from DNR, and with their map, head out to the forest to harvest greens throughout the year. But trees, squirrels and birds are not the only inhabitants out there. Timber harvesters and hunters go there, too—there is  target-shooting; there are several hunting ‘seasons’; and logging trucks are driven on narrow forest roads year-round.

Many heads are better than one

Floral greens harvesters had experienced a couple of incidents that showed the need for better safety measures across the broad multi-owner landscapes of Western Washington in which they work. So a partnership —a local group that supports the immigrant workers, ‘Inmigrantes Unidos de Shelton,’ along with the US Forest Service, other private forest landowners and DNR Law Enforcement —set out to find a solution.

Fold-Mock-Up-800pxDNR’s Law Enforcement and our Communications team set to work. Safety was paramount, and visibility of the harvesters in the forest was a key issue. Brush harvesters wearing warm, dark clothing were not easily distinguished from the trees and shadows of the forest. We needed to communicate key safety concepts and permit harvesting basics to harvesters from diverse cultural origins.

 An image is worth a thousand words

RP4-32B_18x24-Workers-In-Forest-400pxPerhaps a cliché, but true none the less: an image (and an icon) can be worth a thousand words. We needed simple designs to communicate complex concepts. And what better way than designing with recognizable iconography?

The materials produced include an accordion-like booklet that fits into a pocket with one side showing key messages, and the other side displaying an attention grabbing “Workers in forest” text that can be posted on the back window of the harvester’s van. A metal sign letting forest visitors know about the activity, and posters for educating brush harvesters about the need of wearing bright-colored clothes, purchasing necessary permits, and following the rules. In some panels, a translation to Spanish and Cambodian Khmer was included.

Credits for the project
Washington State DNR Communications & Outreach: Design by Luis Prado. Editors: Jane Chavey, Jennifer Arnold; Larry Raedel, DNR Law Enforcement Chief.

Icons from The Noun Project: Harvester, van and logging truck icons designed by Luis Prado/DNR; Hand icon by Øystein W. Arbo; Trash by Roger Cook, Don Shanosky, Riley Shaw; Open Hands icon collaboration by Jack Biesek, Gladys Brenner, Margaret Faye, Healther Merrifield, Kate Keating, Wendy Olmstead, Todd Pierce, Jamie Cowgill & Jim Bolek. Happy & Sad Face icons by Tobias F. Wolf.