H&S Reforms, Manual falling Alert, Leadership course

In this newsletter:

  • Joe's blog: How forestry's experience can help inform the Government's H&S Reforms
  • Alerts: Manual Faller flags potentially unsafe work
  • Certification update
  • New Hauora Safety Leadership courses
  • Working in cold weather/driving in forestry
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 Joe’s blog: How forestry's experience can help inform the Government's H&S Reforms

Brooke van Velden, Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety, has launched the consultation process to reform health and safety. The scope of consultation is focused on the purpose and performance of the work health and safety regulatory system. Safetree make a submission from the sector, but we encourage companies and individuals to also engage with this consultation and use this as an opportunity to make improvements.

We believe it would be helpful to share the lessons learnt by forestry over the last 10 years, a period when the industry has undergone a significant improvement in health and safety. It is important that the factors that have supported this improvement are not lost or weakened as a result of any reforms, but are encouraged and supported by any future health and safety regime.

In 2013 forestry’s safety performance was so bad that we were killing people at a rate of one per month for that entire year. Following the 2014 Independent Forestry Review, we now find that in 2024 our safety performance has improved dramatically with reductions in both fatalities and serious harm. But we still have significant room to improve.  We have learnt a lot over the last decade that we would like to share with the government. I would also say we are still learning, and we will always have room to improve.

With that in mind, here are six things that forestry’s experience over the last decade shows are essential to supporting improvements in health and safety performance.

We need a burning platform to compel positive change

For us, 2013 was that burning platform. The 2014 Independent Forestry Review mobilised our industry. It was a call to action that could not be ignored. We understand that the catalyst for the proposed health and safety review is that the current legislation is now almost 10 years old and there is a desire to simplify things. We question whether those reasons provide the ‘burning platform’ needed to compel positive change. A more compelling  platform for change could be the recent report State of a Thriving Nation, distributed by the Business Leaders’ Health and Safety Forum. It states that our fatality rate is twice that of Australia’s and similar to the UK’s rate from 40 years ago. The Reforms could blow on the ember of this statement to ignite a platform for change.

We need leadership with a mandate to co-ordinate collective action

Following the 2014 Independent Forestry Review, the Forest Industry Safety Council (FISC) was created to lead health and safety initiatives in the industry.  The Council includes representatives of industry, workers and the regulator. It is funded by industry, with government supporting specific initiatives. This model, which is still evolving, has been very effective in supporting improved health and safety in our industry and may have applications for other industries.

We need engagement with an effective Regulator

As with most regulators around the world, WorkSafe’s activities span from its important enforcement functions to its prevention activities, which include engaging with industries. Forestry is one of four high-risk sectors in New Zealand and WorkSafe has deployed engagement managers in each of those sectors. The engagement team enables industries and WorkSafe to work collaboratively on issues of common interest to improve safety for all workers. Being able to work in partnership with the Regulator on safety initiatives has contributed to the improvements in safety in forestry over the last decade.

We need to empower industry to innovate and find solutions

In forestry we have learnt that many of the solutions to our safety challenges lie within the industry itself. An excellent example of this is the industry’s adoption of mechanised harvesting, which has dramatically reduced fatalities over the last decade. No forestry worker has died inside the cab of a harvesting machine. The Regulator needs to continue to empower industries to innovate safer and more efficient work practices, work design and engineering advances, along with its own practice guidance resources. It needs to encourage greater latitude for industry to act and ensure the regulatory framework supports that approach.

We need to support training and competence

Growing capability and competence are the foundation for strong safety cultures. Feedback from our members on training and competence is that the current structure is broken. It is not surprising that the centralised model of Te Pukenga is being disestablished. If we want to make a difference in health and safety, then it is essential that we re-build the training structure to grow our people.

We need to recognise that legislation is an enabler, but people make the difference

What we have learnt over the last decade is that the safety systems that work best are all people oriented. In our industry the safest workplaces are the ones where workers, managers and business owners are actively engaged in health and safety, and safety is viewed not as a compliance activity but an enabler of successful work. We strongly support good health and safety legislation and regulation. But any legislative reform that focuses solely on compliance will limit the potential for positive change. Any reforms also need to result in better support, engagement, empowerment, and leadership.

Make a submission on the Reforms

Joe Akari, CEO Safetree / FISC

Alerts: Manual faller discusses potentially unsafe manual work

See this write-up on the FICA website, where a manual tree-faller discusses concerns about manually falling an area with a very high percentage of standing dead trees and spars with some old windthrow. Some of the questions asked in his write-up are covered in the Contract Tree Faller Guide.


Certification update: Work begins on 'Canopy Class' of Contractor Certification

We have kicked-off work on a Canopy Class for Safetree Contractor Certification. In June, a TAG group of industry professionals met for the first time to begin work on designing the new category of Certification. Canopy Class will recognise Contractors who display a high level of health and safety performance. It is being created to recognise Contractors who have developed a strong safety culture and continue to improve their health and safety performance.


New Hauora Safety Leadership courses available

We’re pleased to announce that we will be running another six Hauora Safety Leadership courses this year. The courses are for new and emerging leaders who are up for the challenge of being exposed to a different approach to leadership. This includes learning about:

  • Different leadership styles, and how they can change depending on the situation or context you are working in.
  • Your own communication style and the communication styles of others.
  • The ways in which you best learn, and also how others might prefer to learn.

A key feature of these courses is that they use principles and frameworks from Te Ao Māori, including the Te Whare Tapa Whā wellness model. The concepts behind this model (physical, mental, spiritual, and mental health) are relevant to everyone, not just Māori. The courses provide an opportunity for people to look at leadership from a different perspective, to open their minds to different ways of working and to learn about better ways of working.

Shortly we will provide information about where and when the courses will run. In the meantime, please think about who in your business could benefit from attending. If you would like to express an interest in attending or sending people along, please email info@safetree.nz

See videos of attendees talking about the course:


Working in cold weather / driving in forestry

Winter is well and truly here, so now could be a good time to get crews and teams talking about winter-related hazards, and how they are being effectively controlled. These hazards include working in cold weather and driving in forests in wintery conditions. Safetree’s Tailgate Cards can help support these conversations. Download and print them, and post them on container and office walls:

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