Addressing root causes of fatalities

  • Joe's blog: Addressing the root cause of fatalities
  • Latest Safety Alerts
  • Forestry activity near roads
  • Coming up in 2024
  • Latest dashboard of health and safety performance
  • ACC Recovery at Work trial
  • Focusing on our people
  • Stepping back from KYND
View all news

Joe’s blog

Since I arrived at FISC at the end of 2022 we have had four fatalities in forestry, all of them related to manual falling. (See the Safety Alert below about the most recent fatality). The critical risks in forestry remain the same, with manual falling at the top of the list. We can go back to research done in the 1990’s, which found that 95% of forestry fatalities happened within three metres of the stump.

It is not surprising that the sector has seen mechanised falling as the safest and more productive method to substitute manual falling. However, mechanised falling can’t be deployed in all circumstances and manual fallers are still being utilised. The on-going maintenance of competent, experienced and qualified manual fallers is a separate issue that requires an on-going focus.

If we consider the hierarchy of control measures, our first step is to eliminate the risk. In this case how do we eliminate the risk of falling trees that can't be removed with mechanised methods? All these scenarios are a legacy of decisions made decades ago at the establishment or re-planting phases, when the motivation was more likely to be optimising the stocking.

I am aware of some Forest Managers who are taking important steps to address the root cause; firstly by not replanting areas that they recently had to manually fall, so as to not perpetuate the risk; and secondly at new planting sites they are choosing not to plant in areas if they believe they cannot harvest them mechanically. I would advocate that these should be adopted as common practices. Let’s eliminate the risk now and not create a legacy of risk for the next generation of forestry workers.

Joe Akari

CEO Safetree / FISC

Safety Alerts

Alerts are a great way to share information and lessons around the industry. If you create Alerts in your business please send them to us at so we can share them with others in the industry. Thanks to the businesses that shared the Alerts below:

  • Manual Tree Felling: Initial information about a fatality in February, along with a reminder of critical controls for safe manual felling. The last four workers killed in forestry were all undertaking manual free felling.
  • Fire Season’s Not Over: A reminder that the risk of fires in forests is still high, and of key steps to prevent fires, including how to protect people in the event of a fire.
  • Machine Fire: A skidder operator noticed smoke coming out of the skidder arch after the work light heated up in the arch and started to melt the plastic casing the light was in, causing some loose debris to start smoking. See more about this incident along with reminders of regular maintenance needed to prevent machine fires.
  • Vapes and Fire Season: A reminder of safe ways to dispose of vapes during fire season.
  • Log Fall from Truck: A log fell from a truck while the driver was unchaining. The incident wasn’t reported and the log was found lying in the unchaining bay a while later by the log yard supervisor.

See, download, print and share these Alerts   

Forestry activity near roads

The fine imposed on a forestry contractor this year for dangerous tree felling beside a highway is a reminder of the need to use effective controls when working near roads. Information about traffic management is available on the Safetree website.

Coming up in 2024

We’re working with the industry on a number of initiatives that include:

  • Thinning for Value – Best Practice Guide: The draft guide will soon go out to the industry for consultation. It aims to help thinning for value contractors to improve safety and increase the value of the harvest through thinning for value. The guide is being developed in collaboration with NZFOA, FISC and NZFFA.
  • Forest Manager Certification: This class of Safetree Certification will focus on how Forest Managers can support health and safety in their supply chains, particularly among silviculture and harvesting crews.
  • Contractor Certification – Canopy Class: We are also developing a new tier of Safetree Contractor Certification that will recognise businesses operating well above industry standards. This will be based on two key principles of high performing organisations; team culture and relationships with key stakeholders.

 Latest dashboard of Health and Safety Performance

See Safetree’s dashboard of health and safety performance for forestry for the 2023 year.

See the dashboard

 ACC Recovery at Work Trial

ACC is running a trial to identify ways to support injured forestry workers during their recovery. The trial began this month, and involves businesses employing nearly 300 workers from across the sector. The trial will explore a range of interventions, including training, resources, communications, and additions to internal processes.  The interventions aims to support workers while they are recovering, and while they’re returning to the work or recovering at work. The purpose of the trial is to identify effective approaches that could potentially be used across other businesses in the sector, and beyond.

 Focusing on our people

Over the last couple of months, we’ve released some videos where people working in forestry talk about their experiences of, and involvement with, health and wellbeing at work. These videos include women working in forestry talking about how they are made to feel welcome in the industry, and some of Safetree’s Certification auditors sharing stories about their work.

Watch, share and like the videos on Safetree’s Facebook and TikTok pages.

 Stepping back from KYND system

FISC will no longer subsidise the KYND health and wellbeing app for forestry businesses. Current forestry user of KYND will still be able to retain their accounts but will move to a user-pays basis. While we still support the goals of the KYND app, we no longer have the resources to cover the licensing fees. Access to the app via the subsidised scheme will end on April 30th. However, all individual data will be retained and users can continue to access their accounts by subscribing to the app via the Apple or Google Play stores, starting from May 1st. Subscribing costs $7 a month. If individuals choose not to subscribe initially but decide to resume the services later, their data and history will once again be accessible to both individuals and the business.


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