Our research shows that the fatality rate of workers in forestry jobs was 22 times higher than the New Zealand average between 2009 and 2013. Workers in forestry jobs were also six times more likely to be seriously harmed, when compared with the average serious harm rates of all workers in 2011 and 2012.
WorkSafe New Zealand continues to work with the sector to reduce the unacceptable levels of serious harm and fatalities in this sector. Our Safer Forest Harvesting programme is addressing the toll by providing clear guidance and information, working collaboratively with the sector, visiting worksites and where needed, taking firm enforcement action.
The release of the Independent Forestry Safety Review and the Government response has ensured that the unacceptable health and safety issues in this industry are being tackled head on. WorkSafe is working closely with the Forest Industry Safety Council (FISC) to ensure it has the tools it needs to improve the health and safety record in the sector.
In 2013 the Forest industry stood up and took a long hard look at itself. It established the Independent Forest Safety Review chaired by George Adams. The principal recommendation was for Industry to show real leadership in safety performance and establish a leadership group to develop an action plan for forest safety. The forest industry has backed that call and established the Forest Industry Safety Council (FISC) with funding and support from Industry and government (ACC and WorkSafe) and with the support of the CTU (Council of Trade Unions).
FISC has been set up to lead safety culture change and to drive improvement in safety performance across the sector. The FISC governance board is chaired by Dame Alison Paterson, and Fiona Ewing is the National Safety Director. FISC will be focussing on practical things that the industry can do to improve safety.
Another industry initiative, again with government and CTU support is the Safetree™ web site. Safetree™ is an injury prevention programme for the forestry sector – from forestry owners and bosses – to individual crew members. A good crew is a safe crew which watches out for each other, and Safetree™ provides forest owners and managers, contractors, foremen, head breaker outs, breaker outs, tree fallers, hauler and machine operators, and silviculture workers with resources and videos so they can do that safely. Jointly funded by ACC and the forestry industry, Safetree™ is part of the Government’s commitment to reducing serious harm and fatalities in New Zealand’s workplaces by 25% by 2020. Have a look and sign up to Safetree™ here.