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Forest managers branch out for safety training

Media Release

26 August 2014

Forest Managers Branch Out For Safety Training

A Kerikeri-based forest management company is helping its staff grow their health and safety knowledge. A total of 12 candidates, eight from the Northland Forest Managers team and four contractors, are taking advantage of flexible training offered by NorthTec, studying in their workplace for a National Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety (level 4).

Two NorthTec tutors travel from Whangarei to Kerikeri to run the programme, giving flexible assignment deadlines to fit around work requirements. The tutors are also available for informal coaching sessions for those that need them.

With forestry acknowledged as one of New Zealand’s most dangerous and hazardous industries, Northland Forest Managers co-owner Liz Kingsford decided to get ahead of current and upcoming health and safety legislation.

By bringing senior staff and contractors together in one programme, which was specifically designed and tailored to their needs by NorthTec, the company has created a strong safety culture.

With bases in Kerikeri and Dargaville, Northland Forest Managers are responsible for nearly 20,000 hectares of forest land throughout the region. The company manages the forests on behalf of its land-owning clients and, with a contract workforce of more than 150 people, presently has 10-plus crews working across Northland.

Liz Kingsford said that she and husband Nick, who is Managing Director of the company, decided last year that they wanted to raise the baseline level of health and safety management within their business.

Liz said: “Health and safety is a learned skill. We take the view that we are a management company in a position of managing other organisations and operations. We needed to have a certain level of expertise in-house to ensure we were doing it diligently.

“The NorthTec programme has created a common understanding of what the requirements and obligations are, and how important it is to see that right through at an operational level. It is an applied science. It also shares the responsibility across the organisation and creates a culture of health and safety.

“We wanted everyone to be competent managers of operations in terms of the health and safety aspects they would have to manage. There was no point in just one person doing the training – we wanted to lift the whole game. It’s a prudent investment in our staff and our company.”

Liz added: “What has been good about NorthTec is the fact that they have structured a course and timed it to fit around our requirements. We are able to have the training in our own premises, and the programme focuses on our own industry – we can really target it to forestry.”

Employee Kieran Sharp, a forestry supervisor, said the programme was giving him a better understanding of health and safety legislation and a clearer overview of safety practices across the industry.

Simone Rakena, NorthTec’s Programme Leader for Safe Trades, praised the company’s proactive approach to health and safety. “Northland Forest Managers have a quality focus which means they are always looking at how they can improve their company. They have taken on this challenge, not because they are being forced to, but because they want to be at the top of their game.”

ENDS

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