Clarky's Comment - December 2014, Safety Leadership

Safety Leadership - What does it mean?

As we end 2014 we can reflect on the good work of the Independent Forestry Safety Review panel plus safety legislation changes and what it means for us all in the coming year. It will mean different things to different roles within the forestry sector, but one thing is certain, it will touch us all in some way. As in all aspects of life there are those that make things happen, those that watch things happening and those that wonder what happened. A leader makes things happen - more often by showing and doing rather than telling. Leaders create and change cultures.

It is not necessary to have "boss", "chief" or "leader" in your job title to be a Safety Leader. Kiwi readers familiar with the "Bloody Legend" TV adverts around drink driving will know what I mean. Everyone has the ability to influence safety. It is your personal choice as to whether you choose to exercise that ability.

Research and innovation with tools and equipment is advancing our ability to keep people out of harm's way, but is not a solution on its own. The variations in forestry situations and work are virtually infinite. It takes forestry bosses and worker skills and judgment to keep everyone safe all the time. We also need to recognise that people manage this variation in different and individual ways - mostly with positive outcomes. Sharing the way difficult situations were successfully managed can be more fruitful than spending all our time analyzing only situations that go wrong. More and more prescriptive rules simply complicate an already complex working situation. What is needed is hazard awareness, understanding of physics and uncontrolled energy and a "can do safety" culture. We should celebrate successes. Communication within the crews and also with supervisors and company planners is critical.

As we head into travel, boating and other recreational activities it is also worth reminding ourselves that non-work accidents exceed work related accidents by a considerable margin. I wish colleagues, workers and bosses at all levels a safe summer break and a safe start to 2015.