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A little planning makes a difference

The forestry sector has been identified as a high-risk industry due to the number of work related accidents and highly publicised fatalities. In fact, during the recent changes in legislation relating to Health and Safety in the Workplace, commentators often cited the forestry sector as one of the key areas where reform was urgently needed. Unfortunately, ACC’s statistics supported this contention.

As a result, Health and Safety guidelines were issued by Worksafe for managing small forest harvests with these applying to farmers/orchardists/lifestylers who have shelter belts, which includes many landowners living rurally.

The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 requires the landowner or business owner to ensure that as far as is practicable, that the health and safety of workers and other parties while at work, is not put at risk. This is not an obligation that the landowner can contract out. The aim is to lower the number of workplace accidents by ensuring that better planning occurs pre-harvest, that all physical constraints and hazards in a forest are identified and that appropriate steps are taken to manage risks in order to keep everyone safe during the harvest.

The guidelines for Managing a Safe and Healthy Small Forest Harvest are available online and provide an easy to follow process for planning the harvest, considering and identifying the likely hazards, engaging competent professionals, managing risks, completing a harvest plan and monitoring health and safety. We recommend that you review these well before you are considering working in a woodlot/forest or contemplating a harvest.

Worksafe is the health and safety regulator in New Zealand and while their inspectors also investigate incidents, their main objective is providing guidance, advice and information on work health and safety to duty holders and the wider public. For further information and guidance about health and safety, visit Worksafe’s website or call 0800 030 040.