The forest and wood industry is a multi-billion dollar economic sector in Kentucky that provides 59,300 jobs. Kentucky is the nation’s leading producer of hardwood saw logs with annual harvests of more than 700 million board feet and 1.2 million tons of pulp wood.
Timber harvesting activities are conducted statewide mainly by local contractors operating ground-based equipment. Under regulations of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), contractors are required to provide access routes from any given logging site to emergency personnel locations (EPL), such as hospitals and police and fire stations, prior to the start of ground operations.
Commonly, access routes are provided in the form of printed maps and/or a set of directions. Typically, these routes are selected manually or by using Web applications (e.g., Mapquest or Google maps) for which a single origin (EPL) also needs to be selected manually. These routes might not always provide the most efficient route to the logging site in terms of travel time. Moreover, these routes might not guarantee the best EPL, which becomes important when multiple EPLs exist. There is a need to develop tools that can automatically generate access routes to expedite medical assistance in case of injuries incurred in potentially hazardous timber harvesting operations.
Computer-generated access routes have the potential to provide EPL from alternative locations and minimize travel time to and from logging sites. In this project, Dr. Stringer and colleagues seek to develop a Web‐based application (that has the ability to be used with a mobile interface and/or developed into an App for SmartPhone usage) to automatically generate least-travel- time routes from user‐defined logging sites to the closest EPLs. This application will rely on the extensive base maps available in Google maps (road locations, lengths, speed limits, and traffic level); will be implemented as a Website using the Google application programming interface (API); and will be made available for public use.
In addition to generating optimized access routes from logging sites to EPLs, the new Web‐based application will store all requested access routes and expected harvesting duration to maintain an online spatial dataset displaying active logging sites and associated access routes to EPLs at any given time. This project thereby offers the potential to reduce crucial estimated travel time for emergency personnel in case of work site injuries, while at the same time, facilitating compliance with OSHA regulations.
The research team plans to implement this pilot project among the 54 rural counties within Kentucky’s Central Appalachian region; however, the effort is designed to be applicable to the entire CARERC catchment area (eastern KY, east TN, south WV, western VA, and western NC).
For more information contact:
Jeffrey Stringer, Ph.D.
Professor of Hardwood Silviculture
and Forest Operations
University of Kentucky