Joe’s blog: Migrant Workers, Certification Update, WorkSafe Consultation

Pasifika migrant workers were critical to completing last year’s silviculture programme and are becoming an increasingly essential part of the forestry workforce. So it’s important that the industry looks after this valuable workforce.

If we imagine what it must be like to leave loved ones for a long period of time to seek rewarding and meaningful work in a different country, then the potential to achieve that dream within the forestry industry can be both exciting and fulfilling.

For many this is exactly the scenario they experience and the catalyst to embark on ongoing work, building valuable skills and competence. This is a win:win scenario for the migrant worker and the contractor manager.

However, for some migrant workers their experience has neither been exciting nor fulfilling. There have been reports of exploitation where these workers have experienced poor living conditions, poor pay and limited training.

I am appalled that this can happen in an industry that prides itself on rewarding hard work and thrives on camaraderie and a strong work ethic. These are vulnerable workers and their wellbeing is being negatively impacted.

When I hear reports of exploitation, I worry this is what the industry will become known for. We build our reputation on our deeds so even limited accounts of exploitation can damage how the industry is perceived.

Right now public perceptions of forestry’s safety and sustainability practices are poor, and while we are well advanced in working to improve how we perform, we still have much to do to maintain our social licence to operate. Stories about exploitation will only compounds our current challenges.

We have an opportunity to demonstrate, as an industry, that our migrant workers are valued, well rewarded and supported.  Safetree wants to share contractors’ experiences of using migrant workers, and how they are ensuring that this produces a win:win for both the contractor and the worker. If you’ve got a story to share, please get in touch.

Joe Akari, CEO Safetree/FISC

Support for storm/flood affected businesses

Shocking weather has meant a rough start to the year for many forestry businesses, with some Tairāwhiti contractors unable to work due to road closures, and Central North Island and Northland businesses facing ongoing flooding.

Our thoughts are with these crews and their families. It’s important that forest owners/managers and contractors work together to get through this difficult time. This sort of collaboration builds resilience and supports the industry’s long-term future.

These is some support available for those affected by the weather. Businesses should talk to their tax agent or IRD (emergency helpline 0800 47 35 66). Individual workers can contact Work and Income. (Call 0800 400 100)

Featured Contractor: Te Waa Logging

What do my family do at work? That was the question Te Waa Owens and Justine Pereka-Owens set out to answer when they held a Whānau Day onsite last November. The 74 family members who attended got to watch forestry operations in action (in a controlled setting). They also saw the crew being awarded Safetree Certification – the second time they’ve been re-certified. Justine and Te Waa recommend holding Whānau Days as a great way to build crew culture and help the community recognise the professionalism of modern foresters.

Watch a short video about the day.

Certification Update: Minimising costs, Expanding the scheme

Here’s a quick update on what’s happening with Safetree Certification:

  • Thanks to a $250,000 subsidy from Forest Growers Levy Trust, we will be able to keep the cost of certification down for Contractors in 2023. Thanks to FGLT for its ongoing support.
  • 84 workers have benefited from a subsidy to help them become Safetree Certified/Re-Certified fallers and breaker-outs. The $1000 a worker subsidy is available to Certified Contractors wanting to upskill their crews. We hope to continue it in 2023, subject to funding. Those wishing to register for 2023’s subsidy can email us.
  • This year we’ll be working on a certification scheme for Forest Managers, Thinning to Waste Worker Certification and a new tier of Safetree Certification to recognise high performers.

WorkSafe wants feedback on draft factsheet on containers

WorkSafe is seeking feedback on a draft factsheet, Safe Use of Containers at Worksites. Submissions close Monday, 13 February 2023 and can be sent to:

Click to see the draft factsheet  and to download the feedback form

Working in hot weather

With temperatures rising, now is a good time to remind people about working safely in the heat. Most of us know the steps to take to stay fit in the heat, but it’s easy to get caught up with work and forget to take them – so these reminders are important.  Download our Working in Hot Weather tailgate card, discuss it at meetings and post it in containers etc. Key things to remind people (and ourselves) about are:

  • Remember to Slip, Slop, Slap
  • Drink heaps of water
  • Look out for signs of heat stress in your workmates

Download the Working in Hot Weather tailgate card here.

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