Driving – to work, and at work

Health initiative, bogged vehicles, safe driving, new regulations

Fiona’s blog: Improving the health of forestry workers

Improve the health and wellbeing of workers and you also improve safety and productivity.

That’s the thinking behind the pilot of a health programme for forestry workers being run by FISC and Rayonier Matariki that has now been extended – thanks to funding from the Forest Growers Levy Trust.

The pilot involves the KYND mobile phone app, which enables workers to store their health information on their mobile phones, and could help them improve their wellbeing. The app was created by Dr Tom Mulholland – a medical doctor and former NZ Forest Service worker.

Last year nearly 800 people tried out the app. As a result, 226 workers were alerted that they had high/elevated blood pressure. Another 38 were alerted that they had pre-diabetes/diabetes and 80 people were alerted they were at risk for depression. Follow up emails were sent to 106 high risk forestry workers to help them come up with a plan to improve their health and lower their risks.

The pilot has now been extended until the end of this year, thanks to the Forest Growers Levy Trust grant and ongoing support from Rayonier Matariki. 

Over the coming months, 11 of Rayonier Matariki’s Bay of Plenty crews, totalling 100 workers, will be further supported to use the app. Then we will test its ‘stickability’ – whether the workers find the app useful and keep using it.  

At the same time, the app will also be modified to make it more forestry specific and to make it possible for health professionals to upload a person’s health information. All personal information entered by the health professionals or individuals is securely stored and subject to privacy regulations.

At the end of the year we’ll evaluate the pilot to see if the app could be used more widely to improve the health and wellbeing of forestry workers. 

Thanks to everyone who has supported, and taken part, in this pilot – particularly Rayonier Matariki, whose support has been critical.

Key health risks in forestry

Last year’s trial of the KYND app highlighted the following key health risks in forestry:

  •  Smoking
  • Waist circumferences that suggest a high risk of injury (e.g. getting out of machinery) and diseases like diabetes
  • High blood pressure, suggesting an increased risk of a heart attack or stroke
  • Unhealthy cholesterol ratios suggesting an increased risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Pre-diabetes or diabetes
  • Sleep issues
  • Risk of moderate to severe depression.

Dealing with bogged vehicles

Bogged vehicles are not uncommon in forestry and there are things you can do to make sure people aren’t hurt trying to get vehicles out.

See the advice below. It follows a fatality in Western Australia’s mining industry. But the circumstances are very similar to what could happen on forestry sites especially during winter and spring.

What happened

A fatality occurred while workers were recovering a vehicle that had become bogged. A tractor was being used to recover another tractor. A worker was in between the bogged vehicle and the recovery vehicle and was crushed when one of the vehicles moved. A similar death occurred two years ago in Australia.


  1. When recovering a bogged vehicle, ensure there is clear communication between people operating vehicles and other mobile equipment and all people on the ground (voice, radio, hand signals).
  2. NEVER approach vehicles/mobile equipment without signalling to the operator and ensuring the operator has acknowledged your signal. Blind spots could mean the operator doesn’t know you are approaching.
  3. If a worker needs to approach (e.g. to handle the chain or recovery strap), it is important that both the bogged and recovery vehicles are safely parked to prevent inadvertent movement.
  4. When recovering a bogged vehicle, make sure appropriate recovery equipment is used and that it is attached to appropriate recovery points on each vehicle. Follow the operator’s manual and/or manufacturer’s instructions.

See more

Regulation changes that could affect forestry

FISC has set up a Technical Action Group (TAG) to consider proposed changes to regulations that might affect the forestry industry.

The TAG will look at a consultation document released by MBIE on proposed changes to the H&S in Employment Regs (1995) and Pressure Equipment, Cranes and Passenger Ropeways (PECPR) Regulations. It will help FISC prepare a submission to MBIE on the proposed changes. Submissions close 4 October.   

If you have any comments about the proposed changes get in touch with the TAG coordinator Wayne Dempster: wayne.dempster@rayonier.com

In addition to seeking written feedback, MBIE is running consultation events including one for forestry people on Friday 2 August, 12pm – 1.30pm, 15 Stout Street, Wellington.

For more information see the MBIE website 

Safe driving

Driving is one of the things most likely to cause injury or death in forestry.

Follow all road rules – even on forestry roads

  •  Always drive on the left – you’re not the only one on the road.
  • Obey all road signs, especially the speed limit.
  • Wear your seat belt and carry your licence at all times.

Drive to the conditions

  • Expect the unexpected – potholes, wildlife, sunstrike, dust, wind gusts, etc.
  • If the weather or road conditions are bad, slow down.
  • Be prepared to meet other vehicles, especially on narrow roads or blind corners.

Manage fatigue

  • Take a rest before driving or ask someone else to drive if you don’t feel up to it.
  • Have driver changeover points during your trip.
  • Carry water with you to stay hydrated.

Communicate – tell others where you’re going and when you’re coming back. Call in your position on the RT.

See all the tailgate cards here 

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