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Principal's Health and Safety Obligations

With more focus recently on responsibilities around health and safety in forest operations, PF Olsen recently wrote to its clients. The purpose of the letter was to inform forest owners of their obligations (as Principals) with respect to health and safety. This letter is reproduced below as it may be of interest to other forest owners seeking information on this topic.

Dear Forest Owner,

As you may be aware forest owners have obligations under the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 (the Act) to ensure that all persons entering their forest are advised of hazards and operate safely.

For your peace of mind, this letter outlines what PF Olsen does, as your forest manager, with respect to this Act and how we ensure your obligations and responsibilities are met.

You have formally contracted PF Olsen Ltd to be your forest manager. Importantly, the management contract details the specific service level required of the forest manager (PF Olsen).

At this point, you have already gone a long way to meeting your obligations and responsibilities by:

  1. Selecting an appropriately skilled and qualified forest manager.
  2. Executing a formal agreement that details the work, service level and specific management obligations of the forest manager.

The remaining areas of responsibility for the forest owner are advising the forest manager of any specific forest hazards[1], advising the forest manager of any activity initiated or approved by the forest owner and ensuring safe practice if the forest owner[2] enters or uses the forest themselves.

In terms of PF Olsen meeting its (and the forest owner's) health and safety management obligations and responsibilities, PF Olsen:

  • operates under an approved and comprehensive Health and Safety Management System;
  • ensures that any contractor it engages has its own comprehensive Health and Safety Management System;
  • employs suitably skilled, qualified and trained professionals to plan and manage operations in client forests;
  • employs a highly competent specialist Health and Safety Manager, Nic Steens;
  • uses formal written agreements to engage all contractors;
  • engages qualified and trained contractors to undertake operations within client forests;
  • scopes the work, identifies the hazards on the work site related to the operation and puts appropriate controls in place to manage these hazards;
  • inducts and audits its own personnel and contractors to safely mobilise them at commencement of operations and to monitor compliance during operations;
  • maintains its management systems to the ISO 9001:2008 standard;
  • is routinely subjected to audit by external parties;
  • develops and communicates safety initiatives and programmes such as Safety Champions, Safe Start and Zero Tolerance;
  • is a member of the Safety Leadership Forum and various other safety committees, councils and industry groups;
  • works closely with the Accident Compensation Commission, WorkSafe (formerly the Dept. of Labour) and Competenz on health and safety programmes and partnerships;
  • administers a comprehensive drug and alcohol – free workplace programme;
  • monitors and reports on key health and safety statistics.

We hope that this letter goes some way toward addressing any concerns you may have regarding our management of your forests and health and safety aspects in particular. If you have any questions or feedback, please feel free to contact me.

Best regards,

PF OLSEN LTD

Forest Manager

[1] of which the forest manager would not reasonably be expected to be aware

[2] not initiated or approved by the forest manager