FISC Safety Charter

Safety - Opportunity Knocks

Published Forestry Bulletin –June 2016

The Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA) came into force on 4 April, bringing a new regime - and opportunities - for forest owners.bout helping record the rich life of our forests as you work?

The new legislation offers opportunities for forestry companies to add value to their operations, believes Forest Industry Safety Council (FISC) national safety director Fiona Ewing.

"It gives directors who aren't already engaged in health and safety the chance to undertake health and safety due diligence on their operations, to move away from the old hazard management approach and lift their thinking around risk management.

"What director wouldn't want to know about the risks to their business and people?" she asks. "Most importantly, it gives people concrete things to do to improve safety for their workers."

Those concrete things are:

  • To identify critical risk areas – those things that can do the most harm
  • Discuss and plan work with all workers – those employed directly as well as contractors
  • Develop an agreed plan of how the work will be done safely and communicate it to all those involved.

Four key points have been identified in the risk work being done by FISC that are critical for good performance in our forests: planning, communication, separation distances and competent people, plus, if things do go wrong, "how good is your emergency response?"

But the key to success is worker participation, she says. "We need to have dialogue with the guys in the forest and have to be able to implement any improvements in the forest in a practical way."

The overall concept of a PCBU, defined in the legislation as a 'person conducting a business or undertaking', means we're all in this together, says Ewing. Health and safety legislation is now directing people to the inclusive and engaging process already being used by successful companies rather than the command and control relationship that some still operate.

"The old legislation defined a linear master/servant relationship between management and workers, with a hazard register to tick off, whereas the new legislation requires much more of a roundtable discussion," she explains.

A wealth of work is already underway at FISC. Five technical action groups (TAGs) are bringing industry leaders together to focus on the areas of leadership, communication, performance management, competency and health and safety reform.

Improving leadership in health and safety was a key recommendation of the Independent Forestry Safety Review and is a core work stream for FISC. At the council's first forestry-specific health and safety leadership forum on 20 April in Wellington, forestry leaders were talked through a Business Leaders' Health & Safety Forum case study of Fulton Hogan's approach to 'managing critical risks, presented by Fulton Hogan chief executive Robert Jones.

It went very well, according to Ewing, who was pleased to see CEOs and managing directors of contracting companies attend as well as forest owner CEOs and managers.

The health and safety reform TAG involves representatives from industry, WorkSafe and a union and is chaired by the FOA's Wayne Dempster. FISC has worked with WorkSafe on forestry-specific information that is being released onto the SafeTree™ website – www.safetree.nz – FISC's main communication channel for the industry.

A video has also been produced in which forest safety advocate Wiremu Edmonds explains the key points for the forest industry.

A lot of other work is also underway in the communication and competency TAG work-streams, including the signing of a new industry charter at the ForestWood conference in March by all Council members and the associate minister for primary industries. Current felling and breaking out certification, used successfully by a number of companies to assess individual workers, is to be extended into the wider industry, while an accreditation/certification scheme for contracting companies is in development.

Ewing is encouraging any other FOA members who would like to be involved in any of the streams to contact her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or Tel 04-282 1478.

More information www.fisc.org.nz


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