Press release on Safetree Contractor Certification scheme
FORESTRY MARKS WORKERS MEMORIAL DAY WITH MAJOR SAFETY INITIATIVE
28 April 2017
The forestry industry is marking Worker Memorial Day by confirming it will launch a major initiative to keep forestry workers safe.
The Safetree Contractor Certification scheme has the potential to transform health and safety in forestry, says Fiona Ewing – National Safety Director of the Forest Industry Safety Council (FISC).
The scheme will be formally launched to the industry in May or June.
“Certification will lead to improved health and safety and employment conditions for workers,” Fiona says.
“It will ensure contracting companies have the skills and support they need to operate safely, and will give them a clear standard to operate to. It will make things fairer, by ensuring good contractors aren’t under-cut by contractors who cut corners on health and safety.”
“It also gives forest owners assurance that the companies they’re hiring can do the job properly.”
The initiative was developed by FISC over the last year with substantial input from the forestry industry and in consultation with WorkSafe. It was piloted by small and large operators, to ensure it could work for everyone in the industry.
Certified companies will be added to an online register that can be searched by forest owners looking for contractors.
The scheme goes beyond ‘paperwork’ and includes field audits where assessors go on site to observe and talk to workers about their safety practices.
It is fitting that the scheme’s launch should be announced on Workers Memorial Day, Fiona says.
“Four forestry workers were killed on the job in 2016 and another two were killed in the first four months of 2017,” she says.
“That’s less than the 10 deaths recorded in 2013. But clearly there’s still a lot of work to do to achieve our goal of zero serious injuries and deaths in forestry.
“Contractor certification will help us achieve that goal, so it’s important that the industry supports this scheme.”
Forestry contractors will be encouraged to sign up to the scheme during a national roadshow later this year. More information about the initiative is available on the www.safetree.nz website.
Media contact: Fiona Ewing, National Safety Director, Forestry Industry Safety Council, 027 502 8065
Logger Magazine Article featuring Fiona Ewing, National Safety Director, FISC
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Safeguard Magazine - spotlight feature
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Our Charter - Industry News (double click on link)
Forestry deaths should strengthen industry’s resolve to work harder on safety
1 April, 2016
The deaths of four workers in the past three months is a sad reminder that the forestry industry still has much work to do to improve its safety performance, the Forestry Industry Safety Council (FISC) says.
“These deaths are a tragedy for the families and forestry crews involved,” says FISC National Safety Director Fiona Ewing. “They should strengthen the industry’s resolve to work even harder to make forestry safe for the people working in the industry.”
The fatalities compare with three forestry death in all of 2015 and one in 2014. Forestry fatalities hit a high of 10 in 2013 – which prompted an independent review that among other things recommended the creation of FISC to coordinate industry and government harm prevention efforts.
Fiona says there are three really key things that can prevent many of the accidents that happen in forestry.
“Workers need to be trained and competent to do the job, there needs to be good planning and communication so everyone knows what’s happening on-site, and people must adhere to the safe retreat distances.”
The new Health and Safety at Work Act, which comes into force on Monday, will help sharpen the focus on ways of working safely, Fiona says.
The Act reinforces the importance of leadership of safety from the top, workers being involved in health and safety, businesses sharing responsibility for the safety of all workers including contractors and a strong focus on managing real risks in the workplace.”
FISC has begun creating industry specific health and safety information for forestry workers, supervisors and managers. These are being delivered via the safetree.nz website and facebook page.
FORESTRY SECTOR LEADERS SIGN PACT TO IMPROVE SAFETY
16 March 2016
Forestry sector leaders will today make a public commitment to work together to reduce injuries to workers when they sign the Forest Industry Safety Council Charter.
The Charter will be signed by members of the Forest Industry Safety Council (FISC), which includes representatives of forest owners and managers, contractors, farm foresters, WorkSafe, ACC, unions and workers. It is also being signed by Associate Minister for Primary Industries, Hon. Jo Goodhew, representing the government.
“This Charter sets out at a high level how the industry will work together to make forestry a safe and healthy sector in which to work,” says FISC Chair Dame Alison Paterson.
“By signing our names to this pact in front of so many industry colleagues, we’re making a very public demonstration of our determination to work towards our goal of zero serious harm and fatalities in forestry,” Dame Alison says.
“Charters by their nature are symbolic. But the symbolism of so many industry representatives committing to lead by example is powerful. Their actions in fulfilling the commitments they’re making in the Charter will support FISC’s efforts to reduce harm.”
The ForestWood conference in Auckland, attended by hundreds of industry participants from across the country, will be the venue for the signing.
In addition to asking signatories to lead by example, the Charter asks them to work collaboratively on harm reduction activities, says FISC National Safety Director Fiona Ewing.
“That’s no small ask in a highly diverse sector like forestry, so it has been really encouraging to see people agreeing without hesitation to work together on this issue,” Fiona says.
“This Charter is an important milestone in the sector’s health and safety journey.”
An expanded version of the Charter will be developed later this year that includes detailed actions and expectations. Companies and others working in the industry will be invited to sign it.
In addition to Minister Goodhew, the Charter will be signed by representatives of:
- WorkSafe NZ
- First Union
- NZ Farm Forestry Association
- Training Organisations
- Forest Industry Contractors Association
- Forest Owners Association
- Forest managers
RADIO INTERVIEW AND PRESS RELEASE FEBRUARY 2016
GOOD PROGRESS – BUT MORE WORK TO DO TO MAKE FORESTRY SAFE
A reduction in deaths and serious injuries in forestry since 2013 is encouraging but there is more work to be done yet, the Forest Industry Safety Council (FISC) says.
WorkSafe figures show serious injuries halved to 78 in 2015 from 160 in 2013, FISC National Safety Director Fiona Ewing says.
“The trend is going in the right direction but we can’t rest on our laurels. Three forestry workers died in 2015. That’s well down on the 10 who died in 2013 but it’s up from just one in 2014.
“The only acceptable number of fatalities and serious injuries in forestry is zero – so we’ve still got a lot of work to do to reach that ambitious target.”
Fiona says FISC – set up last year in response to the high death toll in 2013 – has been working to ensure sustained safety improvements in all areas of forestry.
“There’s a risk that with fatalities dropping from their 2013 peak people will think we can tick safety off as being sorted and move on. But experience tell us that the minute we take our eye off the ball those fatality and serious injury rates will start climbing back up again.
“Some of the performance improvements have come from big companies investing in more mechanisation that removes people from manual felling. That’s excellent. But smaller other operators might not be able to afford new equipment so it’s essential that we get them working safely with the people and equipment they already have.”
This year FISC will focus on ensuring industry players understand what’s required of them under the new Health and Safety at Work Act, which comes into force in April.
“We’re working closely with WorkSafe NZ to produce pragmatic guidance on four key changes in the Act - new duties for directors and CEOs, new obligations in the supply chain and towards contractors, requirements to involve workers in health and safety, and improved risk management. We will focus on sharing good practice and the safetree.nz web site has been set up to provide a one-stop shop for the industry to access and share good practice information.
Fiona Ewing is available for interviews on 027 502 8065 or Fiona.Ewing@fisc.org.nz