Welcome back to work.
I wish the year had got off to a better start. But sadly, we had our first forestry fatality last Thursday in Ruatoria near Gisborne. My sympathies go out to the family, friends and crewmates of the worker involved.
We know from experience that there’s a heightened risk of incidents during the first week or two back at work after the holidays. So, it’s a time when we all need to be extra vigilant. Crews need to be supported and empowered to take a bit more time each morning to confirm that everything is safe before they start work. That includes that everyone in the crew is mentally and physically safe to start work, and that all the equipment is in good working order.
Worker involvement in health and safety will be a focus for Safetree in 2020 and I’m pleased to announce that as part of a pilot with WorkSafe, we have hired two champions to help lead this work. They are Richard Stringfellow and Wade Brunt. We’re calling these two champions Toroawhi, which means ‘together we create change’.
They will work with crews and others in forestry to help get workers more involved in health and safety decision-making. We know that when workers are involved like this, health, safety and business performance all improve.
Richard is based in Taupo and will cover the Central North Island, while Wade is based in Gisborne covering the Gisborne/Tairāwhiti region. They will start on 20 January 2020 and we will be introducing them to their regions. Assuming the pilot is successful we’re keen to expand this initiative to other regions of New Zealand.
Speakers at this year’s conference will include Dr Lucia Kelleher, a behavioural neuroscientist, who will talk about ‘Busy Brain Syndrome’ and what it means for forestry. Busy Brain Syndrome shows up as attention overload due to too much environmental stimulus. It causes brain fatigue, meaning the brain compensates by doing more tasks on ‘autopilot’.
Learn more about Busy Brain Syndrome at Safetree’s Connect for Success Conference, and how you can get back in the driver’s seat and cope better with everyday life. The conference runs on 26 & 27 March 2020 in Wellington.
If you want to improve your health in 2020, or the health of people who work for and with you, here’s some free help.
People working in forestry can sign up for free to the KYND health and wellbeing app using the code N8FISC. They can enter their health information into the app, then keep tabs on how their mental and physical health is tracking. Watch this video where forestry health and safety campaigner Wiremu Edmonds talks about how the app helped him.
Wade has 17 years frontline forestry experience and is an experienced processor/operator who most recently worked for McIndoe Logging in Gisborne.
After going on his own personal development journey to improve his physical and mental health, Wade began working to improve the health of his fellow forestry workers. This included running several 8-week health camps specifically designed for forestry workers. He also created ‘Jogging for Logging’ – a relay from Gisborne to Tolaga Bay that involved participants in the health camps.
In 2019 he received a Tairāwhiti Man of the Year award for his contribution to the health of forestry workers on the East Coast, and an Eastland Wood Council Scholarship.
As the Programme Manager for Forest Operations at Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology, Richard worked for more than 23 years to educate forestry students in safe, healthy practices.
He managed seven tutors in the Central North Island and Blenheim, overseeing their delivery of the Forest Operations courses for students. He also introduced computerised simulators into the training courses, the first of its kind in the southern hemisphere.
Prior to becoming a tutor, Richard worked with a silviculture crew planting, pruning and waste thinning. The last two years in the forest he served as a foreman managing the crew he had previously worked for.
If you know or work with someone who could benefit from Safetree’s resources, then send them this newsletter and suggest they sign up to get it themselves. They can sign up at the bottom of our website homepage: https://safetree.nz/