Developing new drugs code, free risk workshops, latest IRIS incident data

Fiona’s Blog

Safetree has been asked to update the industry’s alcohol and drugs guideline with a view to ensuring it is effective and reflects current best practice thinking. The existing NZFOA guideline focuses heavily on testing – which at the time it was written in 2008 (and revised in 2015) was how people thought they could best keep alcohol and other drugs out of the forest.

Fourteen years later more is known about the best ways to manage this issue, and we want to include this knowledge into the new guideline. Initial research done for Safetree suggests there is no clear evidence that testing, on its own, provides a strong deterrent against drug use. There are signs of people ‘gaming’ the testing system and changing their behaviour to avoid detection, including swapping to ‘harder’ drugs like methamphetamines or synthetic drugs that are less detectable through testing.

Some responses to failed tests have the potential to damage trust and make it harder for workplaces to help workers who want to change their behaviour. Interestingly, the research also highlights that alcohol and other drugs are not just a problem workers bring into the workplace. Workplaces themselves can have a significant impact on alcohol and drug use.

Workplace stress – including long and irregular hours, job insecurity, low pay and boredom – can cause distress that is known to affect consumption of alcohol and other drugs. The availability of drugs and alcohol within the workplace, and attitudes in the workplace towards using them, also mean workplaces can have a significant impact on levels of usage by workers.

With that in mind, we’re developing principles to help guide us in the revision of the guideline. These principles will aim to help workplaces:

  • Effectively manage the risks created by impairment from alcohol and other drugs in the workplace.
  • Improve worker health and wellbeing, including educating workers on the risks, and options to get help.
  • Keep alcohol and other drugs out of the forests and keep people working safely in them.

We will consult with the sector on the development of the guideline. But in the meantime, if you have ideas and experiences you’d like to share please get in touch. We’d also like to hear stories of new things people are trying to manage these risks and encourage healthy lifestyles among workers. You can contact us at

I’m moving on

After seven enjoyable years I have decided to step away from leading the Forest Industry Safety Council/Safetree. I believe I leave the organisation in a good position having secured sufficient future funding and developed an agreed work programme with our key stakeholders. It’s been a great experience running this organisation. There have been challenges. But I’ve really enjoyed the people I’ve met along the way and the support I’ve had from industry participants. My last working day will be 31 May 2022.

The process of finding my replacement is underway. If you know someone you think might fit the bill I suggest they get in touch with FISC’s chair, Simon O’Grady. 

Free ‘Understanding Risk’ workshops – registrations open

We have secured funding from WorkSafe to run these free workshops in several regions in June. They look at: what is risk, why we take risks, understanding what happens when it goes wrong, and how and who we can work with to change the outcome. This isn’t about a risk assessment process. It’s more about how people perceive and understand risks, which will help with making decisions on a day-to-day basis and especially when things change. Each session involves two separate workshops – one for workers and one for Contractors/Forest Managers – so each group can focus on what’s relevant to them.

Please email if you’d like to book your team to come along. (Bookings are essential for catering purposes). Here is a list of workshops:

7 June, Napier      
9 & 10 June, Wairarapa 
13 June, Blenheim 
20 June, Invercargill 
21 June, Mosgiel
22 June, Christchurch
23 June, Greymouth
28 June, Gisborne 
29 June, Te Araroa or Tolaga Bay TBC

Latest IRIS Report

See the latest IRIS report with information on incidents in forestry. See the report

Safetree Certification – approved auditors

Safetree has an approved list of auditors for Safetree Contractor Certification. The names of these auditors are below. Following changes to certification last year, the system is now set up to allocate auditors in the most efficient way. If you want to organise an audit, or to become certified, go to the Safetree Certification Register on the Safetree website. The approved auditors are: 

  • Alan Paulson
  • Brad White
  • Brent Searle
  • Catherine Dark
  • Franz Assenmacher
  • Kere Elliot
  • Paula Nordstrom
  • Rowan Monk
  • Lee Perry
  • Michael Green
  • Willie Sinclair

To organise an audit visit the Register

WorkSafe notifications

Trees coming down? Make sure you give WorkSafe a heads-up. You need to notify WorkSafe before starting any commercial tree felling or logging operations. You can do this via the handy ‘Notify WorkSafe’ button on WorkSafe’s website; By law, WorkSafe must be notified of all hazardous work at least 24 hours before work starts – and all commercial tree felling operations are classified as hazardous work. (Tree falling and harvesting account for almost all fatalities in forestry.) Failing to notify WorkSafe could put you at risk a fine of up to $50,000. If you have any problems or questions, contact WorkSafe on 0800 030 040 or email

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