Check how the team are handling the tough winter conditions

We’re getting close to the end of a long, hard winter – that’s left many forestry crews worn down and forestry sites sodden.

Tired workers and difficult conditions increase the risk of mistakes and injuries.

So now would be a good time for crew owners, forest managers and forest owners to check in on how people are going.

Workers know better than anyone if there are emerging problems onsite. So talking to them is an excellent way to catch problems before they turn into incidents.

Ask the crews working for you how they are coping with the conditions? Is anyone worn out, needing help? Is there a way to change the work to take account of the conditions? Are the work targets still realistic given the weather?

Talk about how fatigue and sodden sites can increasing forestry’s five critical risks – the things that most often lead to people getting killed or permanently injured:

  • Tree felling (including branches and spars from above)
  • Breaking out / extraction
  • Driving vehicles
  • Processing on the skid site
  • Maintenance problems.

Also ask if fatigue and poor conditions are affecting the crew’s ability to use the five critical defences know to prevent injuries:

  • Planning – for the block and for the day – resources and people
  • Communication – what’s the plan, does everyone know it, is it working, has anything changed
  • Separation – either distance (2 tree lengths, safe retreat), or time (not doing work activities at the same time)
  • Competency – people doing the work have the necessary training, skills and experience
  • Emergency response – there is a well-practised response if anyone does get hurt.

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