As forestry prepares to get back to work next week, this email clarifies what sorts of activities can be done while we are still at Covid-19 Alert Level 4, and as we get ready to start at Level 3. It also gives more details on safe transport arrangements at Level 3, and confirms that forestry businesses do not need to register at Level 3 with any government agencies in order to go back to work.
However, businesses that start-up next week need to have a Covid-19 plan that details how they will work in a way that controls the risk of the virus spreading. There are links below to a WorkSafe template for creating this plan, and an industry-created guide (endorsed by WorkSafe) to help you fill in the detail of your plan.
It’s important to recognise that when work begins next week, it will be after the longest break that many workers will have ever had. People will also be getting used to new rules and ways of working. So, it could be good to begin work with a proper ‘Safe Start Up’ session. See the resource Safetree produced for the 2020 Safe Start Up.
What work can be done while we are still at Level 4?
Te Uru Rakau/Forestry NZ has provided the following information about what work can be done before Tuesday, while we are still at Level 4:
A few forestry businesses have been given permission to begin a phased restart under Alert Level 4. This includes loading and moving existing log stockpiles. Sawmills can also start production to support the domestic supply of essential items like pallet material. Dispatch of goods to support essential services is also allowed.
As the country prepares to move to Alert Level 3, a wider range of forestry and wood processing businesses can start preparing to open. Preparing means it is okay to go into your business premises now to do the minimum to get ready for Alert Level 3. It is okay to move harvesting equipment into place, within the forest, and to start it up to ensure it is ready to operate next week. Activity must be done safely and with the minimum number of your workers. You cannot start harvesting until we move to Alert Level 3.
Businesses can also clear, unpack and sort freight, clean their premises, and rearrange their workplaces for physical distancing between workers. Regular maintenance should wait until Level 3 begins.
People can travel to their workplace if it is in the same region where they currently live. People need to stay in the region where they are now unless they meet one of the limited criteria for inter-regional travel. See more
You must only ask the smallest number of workers possible to come in to help prepare, and only if you meet all health and safety and public health requirements for Alert Level 4. Everyone must stay 2 metres apart, and follow appropriate hygiene measures. Remember that Anzac Day is this weekend, and the normal Holidays Act rules apply.
Operating at Level-3
Under Alert Level 3 business can resume operations if they have a Covid-19 safety plan that sets out how they’ll operate safely. You do not have to register with any government agency.
More details about transporting workers safely at Level 3
How many people can be in a vehicle?
Avoiding people having close contact with others outside their ‘bubble’ is one of the best ways to stop the spread of Covid-19. That includes avoiding close contact when people are travelling to, from and at work. This isn’t always easy in an industry like forestry. Below is some additional information about travelling, which supplements the information already on Safetree.
Cars and light vehicles: People coming from different home ‘bubbles’ can go to work in the same car as long as physical distancing is maintained. In most cases, that will mean you can only have 2 people in a car. If people already live in the same home ‘bubble’ they can travel together without the spacing restrictions.
Larger vehicles: The aim is to keep people a minimum of 1m apart by seating them by the window, and in alternate rows. (See the diagram at the bottom on the right-hand side of the transport poster.) The more seats you have in the vehicle, the more people you can fit in.
Regardless of the size of the vehicle, people should use the same seat every day. Some companies are installing Perspex dividers if they don’t have enough vehicles or can’t space people out. For the 2 weeks that we may be in Level 3, it may be worth considering another kind of vehicle
Hunting at Level 3
Hunting is not allowed at Level 4. The shift to Level 3 means hunters can hunt locally on private land as long as they have the landholder’s permission and stick to the rules. The Department of Conservation has said hunting is not allowed on public conservation land. See more on the Department of Conservation website.
Drone use in forestry
CAA has confirmed that commercial, remotely piloted aircraft activity can be undertaken at Alert Level 3 providing there is no face-to-face interaction with customers, and all guidelines for operating safely as a workplace can be met, including physical distancing and other public health guidelines. See the table in this link for further details.