Work is done outdoors, often in isolated locations, and many times bad weather is a factor. Workers must commute long distances or live in work camps for long periods of time. Shift work is common. Although technology has made improvements, there are constant hazards in the workplace. Some are associated with the hard physical nature of the job itself, others involve falling branches, rough terrain, and the inherent dangers of felling trees and handling logs - known traditionally in the industry as "widowmakers."
Machinery noise means protective gear must be used on the ears, and other safety equipment, including hardhats, boots, and safety clothing must be worn. Trees may be cut on steep, wet and uneven terrain, and workers may have to lift heavy loads. There is a degree of uncertainty in the workplace, as competition in the industry and cheaper harvest costs overseas impact the availability of work in North America. Demand for wood products remains high worldwide, however, so work is available in many countries outside of the U.S. and Canada. Finland, Switzerland, Indonesia, New Zealand, Brazil, and Malaysia are just a few of the countries with a large lumber industry. The annual world logging competitions draw skilled lumberjacks from dozens of countries around the world.