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Good Progress – But More Work to Do to Make Forestry Safe

Good Progress – But More Work to Do to Make Forestry Safe

1 February 2016

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.

ENDS

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