Workers Memorial Day with major Forestry Safety Initiative
Friday 28 Apr 2017The NZ forestry industry is marking Worker Memorial Day (April 28th) by confirming it will launch a major initiative to keep forestry workers safe. The Safetree Contractor Certification scheme has the potential to transform health and safety in forestry, says Fiona Ewing – National Safety Director of the Forest Industry Safety Council (FISC). The scheme will be formally launched to the industry in May and June.
“Certification will lead to improved health and safety, and employment conditions for workers,” Fiona says. It is fitting that the scheme’s launch should be announced on Workers Memorial Day, she says. “Four forestry workers were killed on the job in 2016 and another two were killed in the first four months of 2017.”
“That’s less than the 10 deaths recorded in 2013. But clearly there’s still a lot of work to do to achieve our goal of zero serious injuries and deaths in forestry. Contractor certification will help us achieve that goal, so it’s important that the industry supports this scheme.”
Certification will ensure contracting companies have the skills and support they need to operate safely, and will give them a clear standard to operate to, Fiona says. “It will make things fairer, by ensuring good contractors aren’t under-cut by contractors who cut corners on health and safety. It also gives forest owners assurance that the companies they’re hiring can do the job properly.”
The scheme goes beyond ‘paperwork’ and includes field audits where assessors go on site to observe and talk to workers about their safety practices, Fiona says. The initiative was developed by FISC over the last year with substantial input from the forestry industry and in consultation with WorkSafe. It was piloted by small and large operators, to ensure it could work for everyone in the industry.
Certified companies will be added to an online register that can be searched by forest owners looking for contractors. Forestry contractors will be encouraged to sign up to the scheme during a national roadshow later this year. More information about the initiative is available on the www.safetree.nz website.
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