Getting good advice, Certification review, Latest fatality info from WorkSafe

Fiona’s Blog

Many companies use a consultant to help them with their health and safety. Over the years I’ve seen the results of this – and there is the good, the bad and the ugly. And yes, I’ve seen these situations in forestry as well as in other sectors. As with any service provider for your business, you need to make sure you get sound advice.

The ugly: The business pays for a folder that contains a generic health and safety system. This doesn’t reflect what’s done in the business and sometimes it’s not even legally compliant. I’ve seen versions that have other companies’ names in them from the last ‘copy and paste’ exercise by the consultant.

The bad: The business pays for a generic health and safety system which they don’t use on a day-to-day basis but keep on a shelf or in a file directory. They use this generic system to demonstrate compliance and ‘pass audits’ but it’s not the way they actually operate in the business. They have the cost of running parallel systems, and more importantly than the financial implications, this has an impact on their people. Instead of having systems to support them to achieve ‘successful work’ the systems are often seen as being there purely for legal protection when something goes wrong.

The good: In this case the business works with someone who’s skilled enough to work with them to understand their operations and engage with the people doing the work to understand how work can best be done. By doing this the consultant can also help with implementation of any improvements. This is where ownership, leadership, risk management and worker engagement truly combine to help the business develop a system that describes how they operate on a day-to-day basis. This is where ‘successful work’ sits – the system supports the work being done and is used consistently within the business.

The NZ Institute of Safety Management is the professional body for those working in health and safety. I’ve spoken with their CEO on this matter and they are happy to follow up with their members if required. I’m also aware the WorkSafe have followed up where consultants’ advice has been lacking. If you have any issues please let us know at You can search for qualificed consultants on the HASANZ Register.

Review of Safetree Certification

As part of our review of the Safetree Certification scheme, a Technical Action Group (TAG) was established following an industry meeting in January, and has been working on seven workstreams:

FISC Safety Charter: To encourage whole of sector commitment to the scheme.

Governance: Review existing governance panel and operating rules.

Software platform: Explore improvements in usability for contractors and auditors. Increased reporting and visibility for forest owners/managers and the sector.

Auditors: Consider capability / capacity / consistency.

Operating model: Focus on day-to-day workings of certification.

Maturity model for certification: How we progress from compliance to encouraging learning organisations, which is the stretch and recognition that has been asked for.

Communications plan: Sharing information from the review and ongoing communications about certification.

The TAG will provide its first recommendations to the FISC Council meeting on 16 June 2021.

Latest fatalities information

To help the forestry industry learn and become safer, WorkSafe has agreed to share information about forestry fatalities. WorkSafe has prepared this information in discussion with the affected parties. WorkSafe’s investigations into the incidents are continuing and they will inform us of any other key issues or trends as they come to light in the investigations.

See the latest fatality information from WorkSafe

WorkSafe comments on risk management in forestry

It’s worth noting the comments below from WorkSafe, which have been included in its recent updates on both felling and breaking-out fatalities:

“Across all work in New Zealand, HSWA requires those in control of, influencing, or arranging work, to do all that is reasonably practicable to protect workers and others from harm arising from that work.  The fundamental principle is that workers must be provided the highest level of protection against harm to their health, safety and welfare from hazards and risks arising from work.  In high-risk situations this means understanding and applying the hierarchy of controls.  If the risk cannot be eliminated, then the next step is to look for ways that the work can be done without risk, before adopting measures to manage the risk.

[for breaking out] “Where work can be fully mechanised, it should be. Only where it cannot, and must be undertaken, should exposing a manual breaker out to the risks in that task be considered.  If this is the case, the administrative control of safe retreat positions must be followed.

[for tree falling] “Where trees can be fully mechanically felled, they should be. Only where they cannot and must be felled should exposing a tree faller with a chainsaw to the risk be considered.

Here is a link to WorkSafe’s position on the use of technology. This position sets out what WorkSafe says it expects persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs) to do when using new technology. It also outlines how WorkSafe will approach and enforce its expectations.

FISC is currently engaging with WorkSafe on the promotion of higher-level controls for the forestry sector. For anyone involved in these high-risk manual task they must be fully competent and we would encourage you to consider Safetree Worker Certification.

Risk Workshops

Safetree’s workshops this year are focusing on helping forestry businesses develop a deeper understanding of risk, and how it can be managed. One thing that’s different about these workshops is that we run them with people across the contracting chain – including separate sessions for workers, crew owners/contractors and forest owners/managers.

That means people can talk about the risks they face and the controls they can put in place, and can identify the controls they need other people in the contracting chain to put in place. We are also taking these free workshops to more remote areas where forestry businesses often operate.

If you would like us to run these workshops in your region, please get in touch with us at

Safetree Conference – Save the date

The 2021 Safetree Conference, Growing our Culture, will run in Queenstown on Thursday 28th October. The conference will be a great opportunity to learn and share with peers from the forestry industry. Information about registrations will be available later this year. In the meantime, save the date for this important industry event.

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