With forestry operations across the country back up and running after the holidays, now is a good time to remind everyone of how we can ‘make forestry unstoppable’.
You’ll be aware of the government’s ‘Make Summer Unstoppable’ campaign, which urged people to follow simple public health practices to make sure Covid-19 didn’t interrupt our summer holidays.
It’s really important that we continue our Covid-19 prevention practices now we’re back at work, particularly given the rapid spread overseas of new, more infectious, strains of the virus.
I’d encourage all forestry businesses to step up their efforts to promote the Covid-19 public health practices in their workplaces. Regularly remind people to maintain these practices at home too. They are what will help prevent the spread of the virus in the community, should it escape from one of our managed isolation facilities.
The practices are pretty straightforward: wash your hands; use the Covid-19 app; stay home if you are sick; wear a face mask on public transport; clean surfaces regularly; and cough or sneeze into your elbow. It’s also worthwhile to keep a safe distance from people you don’t know while out and about.
Forestry is in the fortunate position of already having excellent, whole-of-industry protocols in place for working with Covid-19. They helped us get back to work safely when we moved to Alert Level 3 last year and they will stand us in good stead should another community outbreak occur this year. These are available on the Safetree website.
I’d encourage you to revisit these protocols and make sure you are ready to use them if the Alert levels change, as this could happen very quickly. In particular, think about how you could have crews or teams working in ‘bubbles’ so if someone gets sick your entire operation isn’t affected.
FISC is currently working with others in the sector and MPI on response plans for any Covid-19 resurgence.
Safe Starts: It’s not just about workers
It’s been great to see so many businesses running Safe Start events when work began after the holidays. Some of these events focused on health (mental and physical), and made use of Safetree resources.
Our two Toroawhi/worker champions, Richard Stringfellow and Wade Brunt, attended some of these events, as did Dr Tom Mulholland, who helped create our health resources and the KYND wellbeing app, which is free for forestry people to use.
While these events to get crews mentally ‘back in the game’ are great, it’s important we don’t fall into the trap of putting all the responsibility for preventing accidents onto workers.
Forest owners and managers, and crew owners have responsibilities for providing the right equipment for the job, and planning and organising work so that it creates safe environments for people to work in. This includes managing production pressures. I’ve already heard of a trainee processor operator putting themselves at risk when changing a chain as they were under pressure to keep up with the hauler.
Let’s continue to focus on our people, giving them the skills, resources and support that they need. In doing this, we will have great businesses that will have great health and safety outcomes.
Daily debrief resource
Our Toroawhi have been discussing this resource with crews and workers on site this week. It’s been well received with feedback that doing a debrief at the end of the working day helps people go home with a clear head ready for family time and also helps with preparation for the next day.
Safetree Contractor Certification workshop – option to attend by Zoom
Our contractor certification scheme is now three years old. So, we’re reviewing it and we’re running a workshop in Wellington on January 21, 2021 to get industry input. We want as many people as possible to come along to have their say. If you can’t make it to Wellington, you can still take part via Zoom.
Tell us your story
We’re always on the look-out for industry stories we can share with other forestry businesses. So, if you’ve got a story to tell, or know of another business with a good story, please get in touch. These stories aren’t about bragging or showing off. They are about ordinary businesses coming up with practical ways to improve the way they work or dealing with common issues shared across forestry. They are about helping other businesses to learn and take care of their people.
Get in touch with us about your story at firstname.lastname@example.org.