Positive handover to FISC

Published Forestry Bulletin – 30 September 2015

Since the Forest Owners and Farm Forestry Associations took the forest safety bull by the horns back in 2013, a huge amount has been achieved.

There has been a dramatic fall in serious harm injuries and fatalities in our forests due to an increased focus on safety at all levels and the implementation of SafeTree and other initiatives. The Independent Forest Safety Review panel has done its work and made its recommendations.

With the Forest Industry Safety Council (FISC) now a reality, work begins to cement in these improvements, expand and improve them.

FOA president Paul Nicholls says it sometimes seemed like the journey was taking forever. "But, now, looking back, we have every reason to feel proud. Sure, this is just the end of the beginning, rather than the beginning of the end, but let's have a big shout out for everyone in our industry who has accepted their responsibilities and got in behind the drive for safety reform."

Late July was particularly poignant, he says. With the FISC trust board in place, it was time for the establishment board to step aside and for the FOA to hand over leadership to FISC chair Dame Alison Paterson.

The FOA/FFA joint health and safety committee, which has driven many safety initiatives over its many decades of existence, also held its final meeting.

"Its work is now the responsibility of the new operational advisory group (OAG), chaired by the national safety director, Fiona Ewing.

Members of the group – who have yet to be selected – will largely be safety specialists working for forest owners, farm foresters and contractors."

The members of the FISC trust board are Peter Clark & Warwick Foran, FOA; Ian Jackson, FFA; Kevin Ihaka & Paul Olsen, Forest Industry Contractors Association; Robert Reid, First Union; Gordon MacDonald, WorkSafe NZ; Sid Miller, ACC; Wiremu Edmonds & Neil Thomas, worker representatives and a Maori representative (yet to be named).

"While the FISC board will make its own decisions, it is expected to pick up initiatives that FOA has been involved in such as Safetree and IRIS (Incident Reporting Information System)," Nicholls says.

Funding for the FISC work programme will be provided by forest growers through the levy, ACC and Worksafe.

As part of her orientation, Ewing met forest safety players from all parts of the industry before starting full-time work in late September. Meanwhile, offices have been organised for FISC on the ground floor of the building in Wellington that already houses many forest industry organisations.

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