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Making Forestry Work Safer

PF Olsen Supports Industry Initiative to Lower Accidents in Forestry

The NZ forestry industry was featured in the September/October issue of the ACC's Health and Safety Guide. A pleasing trend has been the steady decrease in serious injury claims to ACC from forestry accidents over the past five years. Figures show that 217 fewer workers were moderately or seriously injured during the financial year July 2006 to June 2007 compared to three years earlier. That's a 40% reduction. Whilst that's a great result, ACC's Don Ramsay noted that any injury or death is one too many, and there is still a lot of work to do.

The contribution and support of PF Olsen's Health and Safety and Quality Manager Nic Steens was noted by ACC in particular. Nic emphasised PF Olsen's commitment to health and safety and why it's so important. "We want to promote forestry as a high-quality work environment, but to do that we have to have good levels of health and safety. If a company has a poor health and safety record, it is considered to be a poor employer, so it works in a businesses favour in more ways than one", says Nic.

The industry's next big push is aimed at improving safety connections across business activities in the form of a year-long "Workplace culture, leadership and forestry" pilot project. The pilot is collaboration amongst the Department of Labour, PF Olsen (on behalf of the Forest Owner's Association) and ACC. The project is about creating a robust safety culture beyond just reaching compliance and is about leadership and making safety part of everyday activities and behaviour. The heart of the project is four main work shops during the year which will be facilitated by safety culture expert Dr Hillary Bennet.

PF Olsen's active support and investment in safety involves understanding the importance of safety to a thriving forestry industry. "Without a safe working environment, young people won't want to make forestry a career path and skill shortages will worsen", points out Peter Weblin, PF Olsen's Marketing Manager. "That will make finding good contractors for our client's woodlots more difficult, and make the work they do more risky (if not sufficiently skilled and trained)".