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Worker participation key to future safety

Worker participation key to future safety

After months of industry consultation, the forest industry has a new safety body – the Forest Industry Safety Council (FISC). Most importantly, there has been practical input from experienced forest contractors from on the forest floor and workers with experience at the bushline.

Some simple questions and answers may help explain how FISC will work:

Q: Who decided forestry needs a safety council?

A: The independent forest safety review team was not satisfied that people on the forest floor had a voice in making workplaces safer. Following the review and its recommendations, FICA has worked with forest owners and managers to put in place this new group. It will focus on safety using incident information reported by people working at the bushline to identify work areas.

Q: How will FISC differ from previous groups?

A: FISC will pick up on the work of the ACC injury prevention committee to involve workers. The governing board for FISC has two worker reps and one union representative. Experienced workers will also be invited onto technical action groups in areas where the greatest harms are identified.

Q: What will FISC do to make the workplace safer?

A: FISC has engaged an independent chairperson – Dame Alison Paterson. Her role is to lead new initiatives, based on accident information, to identify the greatest harms. Then, working through her staff, the objective is to find tools and techniques for making workers safer on the forest floor.

Q: What practical things will FISC focus on?

A: Some of the first areas of work in focus will likely be manual tree felling and breaking out. It makes sense that the major capability of FISC gets applied to the areas of greatest harm first.

Q: Who will actually do the work?

A: FISC will employ a National Safety Director and the FISC board will govern their work. They will use incident reporting systems to look at the major harms. They will then use groups of workers, supervisors and trainers to pick their brains on what’s not right in our workplaces. The key will be those with good experience offering practical solutions for new rules and tools for safer work.

Q: What processes will FISC use?

A: FICA will be recommending that FISC use a worker system proven to work well in British Columbia (BC). They have technical focus groups with people from the forest floor meeting regularly. They look at key harm areas to identify what’s working, what’s not and other interventions – often related to training – that are needed to keep people safe.

Q: How can workers be sure they views will be heard?

A: The British Columbia forest safety model uses independent facilitators to run working group meetings. These people are not employed by the safety council. Their skills are in getting groups of people to work through tough issues and give practical solutions. It will then be up to the safety council to carry out that work. The independence of the facilitators is what gives the people from the bushline confidence their input will be acted on.

Q: Who will keep FISC focused?

A: The highest rated speaker at both the Forest Industry Safety Summits, held in November 2013 and March 2015, was Reynold Hert who leads the BC Safety Council. He has a career record as a highly practical and effective safety leader. His keynote addresses demonstrated his simple, practical and thoroughly professional approach. We at FICA are confident that those same qualities are the key to Dame Alison Paterson’s reputation.

ends


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