Change is Good

No one ever said change is easy, but that doesn't mean it isn't a good thing in the end. PF Olsen Ltd and Waiariki Institute of Technology have seen their partnership evolve over the years not only in the relationships established, but also in regards to their combined focus on safety.

Waiariki has 11 Forest Operations tutors across the Bay of Plenty, as well as Napier and Silverdale who each have their own crew of students that need high quality training on real skid sites before finishing their studies and entering the workforce. Years ago, Waiariki would approach individual contractors to join their crews for experience, which often had varying results.

"Before health and safety became such a primary focus across the industry, some crews were congested and presented an unsafe environment," said Waiariki HOD Forest Operations, Richard Stringfellow, "Since then, we've come to an agreement with PF Olsen and connect with their specially selected contractors, and we have greatly minimised the safety risk to our students."

As the HSE Act and the Approved Code of Practice for Safety and Health in Forest Operations have developed over the years, PF Olsen has strengthened their own policies and procedures to match and exceed those standards. Waiariki has followed suit.

"Due to the necessary extra rigour, we now have a successful training programme going on in our operations. Our safety culture is paramount, and we are doing everything we can to meet the requirements of the HSE Act and to keep trainees safe," said Nic Steens, Quality and Health and Safety Manager, PF Olsen Ltd.

Waiariki School of Forestry and Primary Industries director Jeremy Christmas agrees, "Since we instituted drug testing, we have seen an increased demand for our courses with better, more mature students wishing to enter the forest industry."

PF Olsen has just signed four new study licenses with Waiariki, reflecting the trust PF Olsen has in Waiariki's focus on health and safety when in the company's forests and the value Waiariki has for working with PF Olsen's selected training contractors.

"The operations team had a good feeling about this, knowing that we are involved in and sharing in industry training," said Steens, "Their comments have been very favourable."

This partnership has now extended beyond the classroom and out into the workforce. Waiariki students who have previously trained with PF Olsen contractors are often subsequently hired to work alongside their former trainers.

"When you go out to the bush now where PF Olsen manages, you see our former students working on crews everywhere – Black Hawk, BALCO logging, H&R Harvesting, Longwood, etc." said Stringfellow. "The students learned their health and safety well with Waiariki and have just continued those practices into their future employment with PF Olsen."

"Waiariki values our relationship with PF Olsen and is very thankful for the support they and their contractors have given our forest operations courses. It has truly enabled our students to get real on-site experience in logging operations which hopefully will prepare them well for their next career step within the forest industry," said Christmas.