Mental Health Awareness Week, Featured Contractor, Safety Alerts

Mental Health Awareness Week

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week – a good time think about how forestry can better look after the mental wellbeing of workers. In particular, we need to think about the impact business decisions and working arrangements can have on people’s wellbeing.

For example, we’ve had feedback about the pressure  contractors and workers in Tairāwhiti are under due to low log prices. An estimated 26 crews (representing about 30-40% of Tairāwhiti’s harvesting capacity) have either exited the industry or moved their crews out of the region. Other crews are driving long distances every day to remote sites as they chase work.

The implications on welllbeing (physical and mental) and safety are obvious. These include fatigue from long commutes raising the risk of accidents, stress from being away from the family for extended periods, and financial stress from for those whose crews are parked up. We’ve also heard of forest managers reducing targets but still insisting contractors are on site 5 days a week.

Obviously all forestry business (owners, managers, contractors) need to adapt to market conditions, and this can involve making some difficult decisions. But it’s important to at least understand the impact these decisions could be having on others in the supply chain.

The best way to get this understanding is to talk to those who will be affected, and see if there are ways to reduce or eliminate the harmful impacts on people’s wellbeing and safety. This would be a great way for forestry to support Mental Health Awareness week.

At the very least, we want to be sure that when things do pick up, we still have good contractors and workers available and willing to work in our forests. 

Mental Wellbeing Resources 

Safetree has some forestry-friendly resources to support good mental wellbeing:

Featured Safetree Certified Contractor: Tony Brand

Forestry is full of family businesses. In this video, contractor Tony Brand talks about his Canterbury-based business, where his wife, daughter, son-in-law, and two sons also work. Tony describes how he’s tried to build a safe, professional operation, that’s a good place to work for his family and everyone he employs. What about your workplace? Would you be happy for your family to work there?

Watch the video

Safety Alerts

Missing road signage: A crew started work on a Monday, falling within 2 tree-lengths of a road, not realising their warning signage had been removed from the roadside over the weekend. To help prevent this happening:

  • Get crews to talk about signage at toolbox meetings to prompt relevant workers to check signage is in place. 
  • Put a prompt in the felling book to remind operators to check signage.  
  • Put a sticker in the cab as another reminder to operators to check signage.

See the Signage Alert

Log Load Security: NZFOA/NZFFA have recenty been notified of three events where log trucks have either had a log about to fall off their load or the chains were so loose the logs were moving. This Alert is a reminder that effective load security requires:

  • A fit for purpose log truck and trailer, an experienced loader operator and a truck driver committed to ensuring the load is secure.
  • Checking the load is secure when leaving the loading area and again prior to exit onto public/main roads, and during the balance of the journey.

See the Log Loading Alert

Please print out these Alerts, and share and discuss them with crews and others. Thanks to NZ Forest Managers and NZFOA/NZFFA for sharing them.

John Lowe, Acting National Safety Director, Safetree/FISC

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