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Deferral of the Planned review of the Forest Operations ACOP

Alongside Industry BPGs and guidance the Forest Operations Approved Code of Practice (ACOP) is an important source of WorkSafe’s expectations of safe work practices in the NZ commercial forest harvesting environment. The ACOP underwent a significant review leading up to a revised edition being released in 2012 and at that time MBIE committed to a further review within five years.

Since 2012, the government has introduced sweeping changes to New Zealand’s Health and Safety landscape through the Health and Safety at Work Act. Some Regulations associated with the new Act are still in development, and have these may impact on the nature and content of any revised Forest Operations ACOP. In addition since 2012 the forest industry has, with the support WorkSafe, established the Forest Industry Safety Council (FISC). FISC is taking a significant leadership role in the sector. WorkSafe is committed to engaging closely with FISC on the process of any review of the Forest Operations ACOP, and on the nature and content of any revised Code.

In view of the uncertainties created by the rollout of the HSWA Regulations, and our desire to work with FISC on a review of the ACOP, we have decided to defer it’s scheduled review. We are unlikely to begin considering the review until the latter part of 2017.

In the interim (and in conjunction with industry), we will continue to develop and release guidance and documents in response to current issues.

Workers Memorial Day – Thursday 28 April 2016

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Focus areas

WorkSafe is committed to helping the forestry industry raise their safety standards and lower the rate of serious harm. This means finding out how that harm is happening, and focusing on the areas where the most forestry fatalities consistently occur. The Safer Forest Harvesting National Programme has run two campaigns in identified high risk areas to date, and there are more to come. Those campaigns use engagement and education to improve knowledge and practice in the forest industry.

Safe Manual Tree Felling

Manual felling has been identified as one of the most dangerous jobs in the forest industry. Research helped us identify the key causes of harm, and we developed guidance to inform principals and contractors on the kind of practice we expect to see. We also focused our inspectors on those causes of harm, and they assessed manual felling crews against those knowledge and practice expectations. [link to assessment tool and practice note] Scheduled follow-up visits allowed contractors to show how they had improved the safety of their fallers.

Safe Retreat Distances

Breaking out has been identified as one of the most dangerous jobs in the forest industry. Research helped us identify the key cause of harm was due to breaker outs being too close to the drag, and we developed guidance to inform principals and contractors on how to plan and work within safe retreat distances. We also focused our inspectors on breaking out, and they assessed crews against those knowledge and practice expectations. Scheduled follow-up visits allowed the crews to show how they had improved their breaking out safety.

Safety Management Systems

We have found that many practical safety failures start with a lack of planning and systems. In the near future there will be a campaign focused on safety management systems, similar to those we’ve run in felling and breaking out. Safety management systems don’t have to be complicated and involve stacks of paper and dedicated safety managers. Strong safety systems are integrated with the rest of the business and ultimately result in improved culture, worker retention, and productivity. We aim to engage with crews around the country to help them improve their safety management systems.

Reform Bill

The Health and Safety Reform Bill has been passed by Parliament. It will come into effect on 4 April 2016. The new law will be called the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Once the regulations are finalised, WorkSafe will issue formal guidance to support the Act and regulations. This formal guidance will start to become available in 2016. In the meantime WorkSafe will develop general information on the new legislation to help people prepare.

Until the new Act comes into effect in April 2016, the current Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 remains in force.

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Prosecutions

Did you know WorkSafe New Zealand publishes information about its prosecutions?

Prosecution action is one of a number of possible enforcement responses that may be used by WorkSafe. Court summaries of WorkSafe prosecutions illustrate the very real consequences of non-compliance and the lessons learnt that can be learnt.

You can view Forestry industry court summaries here.

Research and Statistics

WorkSafe bases its work on good data, research and evaluation. We need to know what works and why it works.

Here you will find the latest statistics and research on health and safety, including information on notified incidents and reports on industry areas.

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