Safety Alerts - Spate of weather related incidents

In this newsletter:

  • Joe's blog: How economic cycles and incidents are linked
  • Safetree supporting ACoP review
  • Safety Alerts: Spate of weather-related incidents
  • ACC Recovery at Work trial
  • Thanks for supporting our Leadership Programme
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Joe’s blog

I was surprised by findings in a recent report on the state of health and safety in New Zealand. Probably like many people, I’d assumed that rates of harm at work generally go up during an economic boom, when activity is greatest, and fall during a slump, when activity reduces. But the report, by economics consultancy Sense Partners, concluded that there isn’t a strong correlation in New Zealand between where we are in the economic cycle and injury rates. However, the report found that while rates of harm aren’t closely related to economic activity, the causes of harm are different at different stages of the economic cycle.

When the economy is booming, there is too much busyness, which can crowd out good systems and processes, and culture. When the economy is weak, there can be a tendency towards cutting safety, training, and culture/wellbeing resources. This suggests that businesses need to prioritise their investment in health and safety, and associated activities like culture and wellbeing programmes, during all economic phases, not just in the good times. They can’t afford to treat investment in health and safety as discretionary spending that can be cut when times get tough.

This message is relevant to forestry, as we go through the current industry downturn. It’s a reminder that it would be counter-productive to reduce or remove investment in things like training, culture and wellness because this investment makes a difference to how a business performs on health and safety.  The report, sponsored by the Business Leaders’ Health and Safety Forum, says that while fatality rates in New Zealand have improved, they are still twice the level of Australia. The work toll is estimated to cost the country $4.4 billion. However, improving our performance to match Australia’s would reduce that cost by nearly $1 billion a year.

If you are interested, you can read the full report here

Joe Akari

CEO Safetree          

Safetree supporting ACoP review

Safetree/the Forest Industry Safety Council (FISC) are supporting WorkSafe to undertake its review of the Approved Code of Practice (ACoP) for forestry. On behalf of WorkSafe, FISC established and co-ordinated four small industry working groups to review 4 sections of the current ACoP. The working groups provided feedback to reflect current practices, which has been sent to WorkSafe. The four sections reviewed were:

  • Steep slope harvesting – tethered machines
  • Manual tree falling
  • Breaking-out
  • Work on landings.

I’d like to thank everyone who helped out in this review process. We have now asked WorkSafe to assign other sections to us, to go through the same process. We expect that WorkSafe will eventually conduct a broader consultation process on the ACoP with the wider forestry sector. When this happens, we will promote the consultation, so people from across the industry can have a say in developing the new Code of Practice.

Safety Alerts - spate of weather-related incidents

Wet Spring conditions are affecting forestry operations, including making trees unstable, roads more challenging and potentially causing loads to become unstable. We are aware of a number of cases where Spring conditions have led to incidents – which are covered in some of the Safety Alerts below. These incidents are a reminder that no two days are the same in forestry and we need to constantly adjust the way we work to the conditions.

Ute Crash in High Winds: A contractor doing land preparation had parked his vehicle in what he thought was a safe location when he started work. By lunchtime the weather quickly changed to extremely strong winds and a double leader tree in the stand on the opposite side of the road came down onto the contractor's ute. Luckily no one was hurt, but the vehicle was left a little battered.

Read more 

Tree Vs Ute: Trees were blown over onto a parked ute, narrowly missing a crew cabin and the worker who was there to grab some gear.  The team had identified the tree fall/wind gust hazard on the day and moved the vehicle parking area to another location. But the hazard to the cabin location remained otherwise uncontrolled. Post Incident Assessment: the worksite involved steep, roadside harvesting, at a switch back and little suitable area available to build a safe area off the skid. The recommendation was that this is not a suitable replanting and harvest area.

Read more 

Trees on Road: While travelling to work at about 6am on a Monday (just before sunrise), a vehicle hit and went underneath a large tree that had fallen over the road. The driver, who was the sole occupant, sustained moderate (but fortunately not life-threatening) injuries. The vehicle was severely damaged.

Read more 

Logs Slide off Trailer: A truck trailer was loaded incorrectly, with the butt ends of the logs facing forwards. The logs were slippery and slid forward and off the trailer. There were no injuries or damage but there was high potential for both. The driver was experienced, but misinterpreted instructions, resulting in most of the butts being placed so they faced towards the front end of the trailer. This created a ‘negative taper effect’ and poor load security. Exacerbated by the ‘sap run’, the load slipped forward.

Read more  

Managing Spring Risks: Tips on driving on rain-soaked and damaged roads, and for loading and chaining, and log cartage.

Read more 

And a couple of Alerts that are not weather related:

Driver thrown from cab: A crane truck driver was loading logs when the truck suddenly tilted and threw him from the seat. The operator hit the boom, then landed heavily on the ground beside the logs they were uplifting. He was knocked unconscious, suffered head injuries and received extensive bruising. He spent two nights in hospital and was off work for three weeks.

Read more 

Bindwood trailer tip-over: A binwood driver reversed, ready to unload his trailer. As he lifted the trailer hoist to unload, he saw the first load of wood come out. It looked all good until he drove forward and the trailer started rocking (tilting to the side). He quickly tried to put the hoist down hoping it would help but it was too late. The trailer tipped to the side (almost full).

Read more 

 ACC Recovery at Work trial

We’ve had a good response to our request for expressions of interest in being part of ACC’s Recovery at Work trial. The trial will support forestry-related businesses to improve how injured workers recover and return to work. It is open to businesses working in forestry, wood processing and log transport, and I’m pleased to say that we’ve had expressions of interest from businesses in all three sectors. ACC is now reviewing these expressions of interest, with a view to kicking off the trial in early 2024. The trial will run for six months, and if successful, could be rolled out across the wider forestry, wood processing and log transport sectors. It is being supported by Safetree/FISC, FICA, Wood Processors and Manufacturers Association, Log Transport Safety Council and NZ Timber Industry Federation.

 Thanks to everyone who supported the Hauora H&S Leadership Programme

Thanks to all the forest managers, crews and workers who supported our Hauora H&S Leadership Programme. About 90 new and developing forestry leaders attended the programme, at seven workshops held around the country.  We’ve had incredibly positive feedback about the programme, which gives people tools and support them to transition from the crew to leader. Attendees said one of the most helpful things they learned about was their own personal communication and learning style, and that other people can have different styles - which needs to be taken into account when teaching or leading them.  They also highly rated the Te Whare Tapa Whā wellbeing model taught in the programme, which acknowledges the importance of physical, mental and spiritual health, as well as the role family plays in our wellbeing.

See course participants talking on TikTok about what they learned  

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