Worker engagement, Safety Alert, Fatality Alert

In this newsletter:

  • Joe's blog: Making 'zero fatalities' an expectation not an aspiration
  • A stronger voice for H&S among Tairāwhiti workers
  • Safety Alert – Incidents a reminder to not rely solely on RT on public roads
  • Safe-Start meetings kick-start the new working year
  • Working in hot weather
  • Fatality Alert: Initial info on fatality in Nov 2023
  • FISC joins new pan-sector group
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Joe’s blog

A happy and safe 2024 to you all. I hope you all had a welcome and relaxing break. I recently found myself taking refuge from the heat of a glorious summer’s day under the cooling shade of a Pohutukawa tree. “It’s not unusual,” I hear you say (cue Tom Jones), but always a good time to reflect on the previous year – what did we learn?

We have an aspiration of moving towards zero fatalities; in 2023 we had two. At a recent safe start meeting I highlighted this statistic and acknowledged that was a significant reduction from 2013 which led to the Independent Forest Safety review in 2014. But when I asked people at that meeting if we should be pleased with that result, the overwhelming response was that it is two too many! So, we have learnt that we still have work to do if our “aspiration” is to become our “expectation”.

There is no doubt that mechanisation has had a significant impact on improving our safety performance in forestry. Both fatalities in 2023 involved manual tree felling. I think this adds weight to the view that our default felling method should be mechanical.

However, there are barriers to investing in mechanical kit - these can include cost, continuity of work to justify the investment and the required operating skill sets to name just some. I believe the industry needs to support mechanisation and on-going innovation by helping to reduce or remove those barriers for contractors who carry the ROI risk for their respective businesses.

The benefits are certainly productivity and enhanced professionalism, but safety is the real prize here for everyone.

Joe Akari

CEO Safetree

A stronger voice for H&S among Tairāwhiti workers

Please watch and share these videos where Tairāwhiti workers talk about the Mauri Tū initiative, that involves workers across the region coming together to bring about improvements in health and safety. The initiative is part of the work of Te Kawa a Tāne (Forestry Community Health and Safety Alliance), which was set up by WorkSafe and is supported by local Iwi, businesses and industry groups, including Safetree. Research and experience tell us that there are strong benefits from involving workers in health and safety decision-making. This initiative is an example of how these benefits can potentially be spread across a region.

Safety Alert – Spate of incidents a reminder to not rely solely on RT on public roads

A spate of near misses on public roads between logging trucks and other vehicles prompted FMNZ to send out this Safety Alert. The Alert reminds people that many vehicles on public roads don’t have a radio. So, while we should continue to call up at each marker, we can’t rely on RT alone to know what’s ahead. The message is to keep left, slow down on blind corners and be prepared to stop in half the visible distance. Thanks to FMNZ for sharing.

Safe-Start meetings kick-start the new working year

Safe-Start meetings took place across the country earlier this month as forestry crews and businesses got back to work. These meetings are a great way to get people’s ‘heads back in the game’ after the holidays, particularly as incident statistics show that this can be a high-risk period for injuries.

I attended a Safe-Start for PF Olsen where I spoke about the importance of a supportive safety culture and how everyone has a part to play in contributing to that. There was a really strong message from all the speakers that we all know what good looks like and it’s up to us to play our part – See something, Say something, Do something.

Our Toroawhi, Wade Brunt and Richard Stringfellow, also spoke at Safe-Starts run by NZFM, Ngati Porou, JNL, Timberlands and Manulife. If you’d like Wade and Richard to talk at an event, or to visit crews, please get in touch with them. Wade is based in Tairāwhiti and Richard in the Central North Island. But they do travel to visit crews in other regions, including in the South Island.


Working in hot weather

It’s been a very hot summer and while we might think that taking care in the heat is just commonsense, it never hurts to remind people – particularly new workers – about the precautions to take. I’d encourage you to download and print this short factsheet on Working in Hot Weather, use it in a discussion at Tailgate meetings and post it in containers as a reminder. It would also be good to double-check that someone’s taking sufficient water to every site each morning and that there’s plenty of sunblock in all the containers for those working outside.

Fatality Alert: Initial info on fatality in Nov 2023

Read and share this Fatality Alert about a tree felling fatality in November 2023. It contains initial information from WorkSafe, plus a reminder of safe tree felling practices.

FISC joins new pan-sector group

FISC is a member of the new NZ Forest & Wood Sector Forum (NZFWSF), a pan sector body that will advocate on shared issues within the industry and will act as a point of contact for Government and other relevant bodies. The Forum aims to improve communication within the forestry supply chain and to manage issues with the interests of the whole sector in mind. Having a collective industry voice will provide credibility that the whole industry backs the content. The other members of the Forum are the New Zealand Institute of Forestry, New Zealand Forest Owners Association, Forest Industry Contractors Association, New Zealand Farm Forestry Association, Wood Processing and Manufacturers Association, Ngā Pou a Tāne, Log Transport Safety Council, New Zealand Timber Industry Federation, and the Bioenergy Association.

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