Market conditions are continuing to have a negative impact on many forestry businesses. Many harvesting crews are working on reduced hours or are having to take weeks off.
This is having a significant financial impact on some businesses and individuals. It is putting pressure on contract managers and employers who want to retain their guys and provide security of work, but are constrained by what they can earn at the moment.
I would like to acknowledge the extent of this challenge and the pressure it is putting people under. I’d also like to acknowledge the forest managers, contractors and crews who are working collaboratively to support each other to get through this downturn.
In challenging times like these, attention can be distracted from important things like health and safety. It can feel like now is not the time to be talking about health and safety.
But it’s important we make sure that health and safety doesn’t become another causality of poor market conditions.
While most of us can’t do anything about log prices, we can continue to work to keep ourselves and each other safe and well at work. That will put us in a stronger position for when the downturn ends.
|Driving in winter|
Driving is one of forestry’s critical risks – one of the activities that causes fatalities and serious harm in our industry. During winter the risks from driving increase due to reduced visibility and poor conditions. This year road conditions in some areas have also been affected by extreme weather.
So, it’s encouraging to hear about crews who are actively managing these risks, including talking about safe routes to work at tailgate meetings, and crew bosses who are investing in safer vehicles. Some crew owners whose crews are working a long way from home are also hiring accommodation for them during the week, so they’re not having to drive long distances to and from work each day when they’re tired.
Trucks also need to be loaded safely, within weight and height limits. In salvage situations where windthrow wood has dried out and become lighter it’s important that crews don’t compensate for lighter logs by loading in an unsafe manner.
See and share these resources on winter driving and managing fatigue.
Safety Alert – Driving and winter risks
Driving to and at work
Health & safety leadership course
Safetree is piloting a new health and safety leadership course designed for new and emerging leaders that is specifically tailored for forestry.
The course gives new leaders skills to perform better, and supports emerging leaders to make the transition from crew member to leader.
It was developed with WorkSafe and the Learning Wave.
The course weaves tikanga Māori into the fabric of leadership and safety, and one of its aims is to reduce the relatively high rate of fatalities and serious harm among Māori forestry workers.
Feedback from the pilot will be used to refine the course, and we intend to begin offering it nationally later this year.
Taking care of our hard-working silviculture workers
The workload ramps up for our silviculture workers in winter. Silviculture workers will be better able to cope with this higher workload, and harsher winter conditions, if their wellbeing is being looked after.
That includes things like good nutrition, getting enough sleep, and having good warm gear.
There are tips and reminders on wellbeing in Safetree’s tailgate cards for silviculture crews. Now could be a good time to download them and discuss them with the crew.
See or download the cards
Health and safety law change
There are new rules in the health and safety law relating to health and safety representatives, and health and safety committees.
The key change is that if a worker asks for a health and safety representative, the business must organise an election. (Previously, smaller businesses in sectors that were not high-risk could say no to these requests.)
Also, if a health and safety representative or 5 or more workers ask for a health and safety committee, the business must establish one. (Previously, a business could refuse a request to establish a committee if the business was satisfied existing practices met the requirements.)
See more about the changes
Resources to help you talk about work pressure
Challenging work can be motivating, but excessive or prolonged work pressure can become a health and safety issue. It can lead to fatigue, risk-taking behaviours, poor decision-making, and poor working relationships.
The best way to avoid this happening is to talk about the risks of work pressure before they become an issue.
This resource from Safetree’s Safety Culture project can help crews talk about work pressure. It includes a practical process to help crews work together to come up with solutions for dealing with pinch points.
See the resource