Health risks in forestry; Safe driving; Fit for work

Fiona’s blog: Managing health risks to make sure people are fit for work

Safetree ran a project last year to find out about the health of forestry workers. The goal was to identify what health risks need to be managed to ensure forestry workers stayed fit to do their jobs. We also wanted to give people a better way to monitor and manage their health.

The project was run in partnership with Dr Tom Mulholland’s KYND Wellness group, Rayonier Matariki and FICA. It collected anonymised health information from 774 workers and it gave us, for the first time, a snapshot of the health status of people working in forestry.

The project identified that of the 774 workers:

  • 23% are current smokers
  • 39% have a waist circumference that suggests a high risk of injury (e.g. getting out of machinery) and long-term disease such as type 2 diabetes
  • 69% have elevated or high blood pressure, indicating an increased risk of a heart attack or stroke
  • 19% have an unhealthy cholesterol ratio, indicating an increased risk of cardiovascular disease
  • 14% had a blood test result that indicates either pre-diabetes or diabetes
  • 51% have sleep issues
  • 23% were at risk of moderate to severe depression; 4% screened positive for severe depression.

This information is really useful because it means Safetree, and individual forestry companies, can develop targeted initiatives to reduce these health problems and ensure workers stay fit to do their jobs. We know being physically and mentally healthy has a positive impact on safety outcomes.

The project also benefited the individual workers involved. 226 workers were alerted that they have high/elevated blood pressure. Another 38 were alerted that they have pre-diabetes/diabetes and 80 people were alerted they were at risk for depression. KYND emailed 106 workers who had potentially serious health conditions to help them come up with a plan to improve their health.

The project involved a 14-stop roadshow, where Dr Tom talked to more than 1100 forestry people about how to improve their physical and mental health. People at the workshops downloaded the KYND app, which helps them monitor and manage their health.

Thanks to everyone who helped with this project, particularly the workers who took part. We’re now looking at some next steps to support forestry companies and workers to improve health in their workplaces.

Why not play Dr Tom’s TWIG video at your next off-site safety meeting

Let’s make sure we don’t add to the road toll

Monday’s horrific road accidents (where 9 people were killed in a day) were a reminder of the need to stay safe on the roads – particularly as driving is one of forestry’s critical risks.

It’s not just about taking care on the road. We need to take positive actions to keep ourselves and other people safe:

  • Make sure you and your workers are driving vehicles with good safety ratings
  • That they have well-maintained brakes and tyres
  • That you drive to the conditions, wear a seat belt and make sure everyone in the vehicle wears theirs
  • That you stick to the 2-4 second rule so you have plenty of time to stop.
  • And that you ignore your phone.

If you think another driver is acting like a bit of a ‘d***head’, just give them plenty of room and remember they are someone’s family/whānau. Drive well everyone.

See the Driving to and at Work Tailgate card

Enter your vehicle’s registration number to find out how safe it is.

Fit for work

To help you and the people you work with stay fit for work, here are some tips from our Tailgate cards:

  • Being fit for work means looking after your mind and body. Sleep well, eat well and take breaks to look after your body.
  • Get enough sleep before work so you can concentrate and make good decisions, and are less likely to become fatigued.
  • Eat nutritious food to keep you going – and drink plenty of water.
  • Be as fit as you can – stretching and making sure you’re warmed up before work helps prevent injuries.
  • Be aware of how you’re doing. Take a short break if you need one. Don’t just power on through.
  • If you work in a machine, so long as it’s safe, get out and walk around during breaks.
  • A lot of injuries happen when we get stressed or frustrated. Take a deep breath, refocus and stay calm.
  • Tell your foreman if you’re not feeling totally with it – maybe you’re getting sick, or maybe you’re tired from the night before.
  • Be a good mate at work. Tell crewmates when they’ve done well. Treat each other with respect.
  • It’s OK to ask for help. If you feeling fatigued, stressed or not yourself, talk to someone.
  • If someone in your crew doesn’t seem OK, it’s OK to ask how they are getting on.
  • There’s plenty of help available – a lot of it is free: Call or text 1737 to talk to a trained counsellor. Find out what other help your employer might give you access to (e.g., counselling from an Employee Assistance Programme, known as EAP)

See the Fit for Work Tailgate card

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