Toroawhi forestry pilot, work site facilities, latest dashboard statistics

Fiona’s blog: Toroawhi forestry pilot – can you be our champion?

We’re looking for someone to be a health and safety forestry champion for a pilot project aimed at ensuring a strong workers’ voice in our sector. 

Workers know what makes work successful on a day-to-day basis and they play an essential role in reducing work-related injuries and ill-health. Therefore, good worker participation is critical to successfully managing work-related risks. 

This view was reinforced by both the Royal Commission review into health and safety following Pike River, and the Independent Forestry Safety Review following the 10 fatalities in 2013.

We’ve done lots of good work with the sector since the establishment of FISC, but we still need to crack the gnarly problem of how to ensure there is a strong workers’ voice. In our sector it can be very difficult to create ways for workers to have an influential voice in health and safety and work design decisions, due to the nature of the workforce, crew size, remote locations and work organisation. 

One way of addressing this gap is the idea of roving or regional health and safety champions, so FISC is working on a pilot project to test this idea in our sector. The role has been called ‘Toroawhi’, which means ‘collectively we create the momentum for change’. The champions will operate in the community and across multiple worksites, supporting worker engagement and participation as well as supporting businesses to improve practices. 

They won’t be a WorkSafe inspector or union rep so they won’t have any regulatory powers or be on a membership drive. Their role is to support the sector by providing additional expertise and soft-skills (great communication and people skills, etc) especially for smaller businesses where this work can be more challenging.  

Regional pilots in the UK and Australia showed positive outcomes for workers in improving participation and engagement, and also a positive impact on key business outcomes, including productivity. As we know, good health and safety is good business.

Here’s some more information about Torawhi.

  • It’s a one-year pilot project, co-designed with WorkSafe, with the aim to improve worker engagement and participation in the sector.
  • A one-year fixed-term contract for two people to be based regionally; region selected will depend on quality of candidates.
  • It’s funded by WorkSafe.
  • The role reports to FISC and will be co-branded Toroawhi and Safetree.
  • It’s a good development opportunity for someone looking to transition to a new role.
  • Recruitment will begin in November – who could be your region’s Toroahwi?

Here’s a graphic to show how it works:

If you could be a champion, a Toroawhi, or you know someone else who could be, please email me directly – or ask them to email me – and I’ll be in touch.

Welfare facilities in forestry

There’s been a lot of talk recently about welfare facilities, with a disproportionate focus on toilets. 

Forestry operations are expected to provide welfare facilities for workers. This includes somewhere to eat, drinking water, hand-washing facilities and toilets, and somewhere to change clothing and seek protection from the weather.

These facilities are important for worker welfare and as a professional industry it’s a reasonable expectation, especially in this day and age.

Talk with forest owners/managers or landowner about the provision of welfare facilities as part of the contract. As well as being relevant to their overlapping duties for all contractors that are involved in the forestry operation, it can result in improved facilities for everyone, as well as reduced costs.

Any discussion about welfare always tends to focus on toilets. These facilities must include toilet paper, a way to wash or sanitise hands, and appropriate privacy and shelter. Toilets need to be sufficiently robust for the conditions and available for use.

The type of toilet provided can vary and I’m aware of a range of options provided. Think about it a bit like the ‘hierarchy of controls’ and start at the top end!

Here are some options already being used.  

  • Forest owner builds permanent toilets
  • Port-a-loos provided either by the forest owner, landowner or contractor
  • Caravan or cassette-style toilets or long drop, as per DoC design 
  • Composting-style toilets
  • Chemical toilets
  • When people are working alone or too far away to use site facilities, all waste must be buried. Do this only with the landowner’s permission. See advice for burying waste on the DOC website
  • Whenever it’s an option, and permission has been given, use facilities available on neighbouring sites.

Whatever option is chosen, there must be a plan to keep all facilities clean, and to remove waste from the site in a way that deals with both environmental and bio-hazard issues.

Please send pictures of your welfare facilities, not just toilets, to so we can share some good examples of good facilities with the industry. 

Latest performance dashboard

The Safetree performance dashboard for forestry has just been updated. It shows that injuries are continuing to trend downwards, while FISC activities are continuing to increase.

See the dashboard

Talking topic card – Skid site management

Skids are busy places – is yours safe? Read our Talking Topic on Skid site management

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