Fixing our Industry Training, Certification Update, Safety Alerts

  • Joe's blog: Fixing our Industry Training
  • Certification Update
  • Congratulations to Award-winners Kuru Contracting/Pourau Inc.
  • Thinning for Value BPG - Thanks for Your Feedback
  • Safety Alerts
  • H&S Training Opportunity
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Joe’s blog

Safety is no accident – if you’ll excuse the pun. Experience shows us that you get good health and safety performance when you have competent people doing the work. That’s why building capability is a priority for Safetree and the forestry industry. It should also be an urgent priority for the Government because our current industry training model is a mess.

We have had four years of instability as the old ITOs were disestablished and centralised into Te Pūkenga, then Te Pūkenga itself was disestablished. That’s four years without a proper structure or plan to deliver industry training. It’s been four years of uncertainty for our highly qualified trainers, many of whom have now left the industry in frustration or jumped the Tasman to more secure and higher paying jobs.

We can’t let this bleeding of talent continue for another three or four years. The trainers we are losing are highly qualified, experienced and knowledgeable. They are people at the top of their game and they are not easily replaced. Forestry is not the only industry facing this challenge – other industries are experiencing the consequences of our rudderless industry training regime.

There has been some positive progress. Six Workforce Development Councils are currently working to update standards and to develop qualifications for vocational training in forestry and other industries.

It’s important that any structure set up to deliver the updated curriculum meets the needs of industries, including forestry. Forestry people respond best to forestry-specific approaches. A one-size fits all model will not work for us. Industries like forestry are constantly evolving, so any new training regime needs to be responsive to the industry’s changing requirements.

A de-centralised approach is more likely to deliver this flexibility than the centralised model of Te Pūkenga. But whatever model is adopted, it is essential that we rebuild the infrastructure needed to deliver industry training, including attracting and retaining qualified trainers.

The Government has announced plans to review our health and safety legislation. I believe that if it truly wants to improve our safety performance it needs to look more broadly than just the law. It needs to look at all the factors that underpin safe working environments. Without a doubt, that includes having a functioning industry training scheme that delivers qualified and competent people to do the work.

Joe Akari

CEO Safetree / FISC

Certification Update

It is encouraging to see that an estimated 60% of the forestry industry is now part of the Safetree Contractor Certification scheme. At the end of 2023, the number of Certified Contractors reached a record high of 303, and the numbers have continued to climb in 2024.

This growth has been supported by more Forest Managers opting to give a preference to Certified crews when tendering work, or to require Certification as a pre-requisite for tendering for work. Thanks to everyone who has supported this growth. Safetree’s focus is to continue to expand the scheme, particularly to cover more crews working in small-scale forestry operations.

We all know manual tree-falling is a high-risk operation and it’s heartening to see Safetree Tree-Falling and Breaker-Out certification continue to get such great industry support. Certifying crews is a great way to raise skill levels and boost morale. Call us on 0800 7233 123 for more information.

Congratulations to Award-Winners Kuru Contracting & Pourau Inc.

Congratulations to Kuru Contracting and Pourau Incorporation for winning the Good Deed Award at the recent Eastland Wood Council Awards. The Good Deed category, sponsored by Safetree, recognised Kuru Contracting and Pourau Incorporation (owned by the Potae family) for working together to build a bypass road reconnecting Tolaga Bay and Tokomaru Bay after a bridge linking the communities was wiped out by Cyclone Gabrielle.

The 2.2km bypass road took five weeks to build, with the dedicated crew at Kuru Contracting working day and night and pausing only during heaving rain. The road was opened on 27th March 2023, becoming the state highway for four months for all vehicles travelling north and south, until a Bailey Bridge was established on Potae land to the south of the failed Hikuwai No.1 Bridge. The Potae family adapted farming operations, offered a considerable area of their ancestral land, and met significant costs (not covered by NZTA or Gisborne District Council) to ensure the road remained open to all vehicles to travel free of charge.

Congratulations and well done to everyone who worked on, and supported, this project. Congratulations also to the other excellent finalists in the Good Deeds category: #Hear4U Charity, Matene Blandford, Stirling Logging and Tania Gibb.

Thinning for Value BPG - Thanks for the Feedback

Thanks to everyone who provided feedback on our draft Thinning for Value BPG. We got a broad range of insightful and in-depth feedback on the draft. We will be working through all this feedback and incorporating these improvements into a final version.

Safety Alerts

Thanks to PF Olsen for sharing the following Safety Alerts. Download the full Alerts from the Safetree website and post them on container and office notice boards. If your organisation has a Safety Alert please share it with the industry by sending it to

Navigating Chainsaw Safety Standards for Work Boots

Chainsaw-related injuries, especially those affecting the feet, can have severe and lasting consequences. In the U.S. alone, there are over 25,000 chainsaw injuries annually, with 45% targeting the feet and legs. Even minor incidents can lead to lengthy recovery times and permanent damage, emphasising the importance of robust safety measures. This Alert explains the standards for Chainsaw boots, and lists some popular options that meet the Level/Grade 3 standard.

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Unexpected Road Hazards

A driver was travelling down a highway when a deer collided with the vehicle, causing significant damage. The driver used his Personal Locator Beacon to text for help. In another incident, a driver was overtaking a small truck. As the driver was passing, another vehicle pulled out from a side road onto the right lane. The driver managed to avoid a collision by squeezing back in front of the truck. There were no injuries, but there was high potential for harm on both occasions. In both incidents, unexpected events put the drivers at extreme risk. These situations highlight the importance of always being prepared for the unexpected when driving.

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Load Loading

Several incidents involving log trucks have posed significant risks or caused damage during log loading and transport, for instance:

  • A loader overbalanced, dropping the trailer and damaging the truck.
  • A log trailer dropped onto the truck deck due to an unexpected grapple malfunction.
  • An over-height load struck a shed beam at the Port, resulting in structural damage.
  • A log slid out of the grapple, damaging the drawbar and chain hook.

No injuries were reported, but each incident had high potential for serious harm and most caused costly damage.

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Track Assessments

While driving along a fence line with an LUV, the passenger was using a handheld thermal imager to search for pest animals and detect hazards. The operator was following tracks made by another vehicle, but not the approved route. The LUV struck a hidden rock, causing the passenger to hit the side pillar. The passenger’s helmet hitting the side pillar prevented serious injury. The LUV suffered a damaged rim and flat tyre. Driving off approved tracks increases the risk of hitting hidden obstacles like rocks, especially in long grass. Despite precautions, such as using a head torch and thermal imaging, the hazard was missed due to the passenger focusing on the side view with the thermal device. This shows how controls can easily lose effectiveness, underscoring the need for limited reliance on them.

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De-energising Machinery

During fuel-line bleeding, a worker accidentally dropped a hand-held radio. The radio rolled under three S30 logs held in the grapple, which had been de-energised by resting it on the ground. While retrieving the radio, the worker leaned on the logs, causing the bottom log to fall from the grapple and land on their foot. They freed their foot, restarted the machine, and retrieved their boot. While no injuries or damage were suffered, there was high potential for both. Even when machinery is de-energised or appears to be in a safe state, residual energy or stored potential in hydraulic systems can still pose significant risks. Familiarity or routine can also desensitise workers to the potential for injury associated with heavy machinery.

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H&S Training Opportunity

Toi Ohomai is running a NZ Certificate in Workplace Health and Safety Practice (Level 4) Online Programme which starts on 11th June. This programme is targeted at applicants who have some knowledge of health and safety in the workplace, are employed and have some prior study at Level 3 or above. The course assessments are work-based so it is good if applicants are currently employed.

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