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Gisborne Silviculture Crew Takes Out Regional Health and Safety Award

PF Olsen's Gisborne-based silviculture contractor, Rimurapa Ltd, won the 2015 Eastland Wood Council (EWC) Forestry Award for: Industry Excellence – Outstanding Health & Safety Management.

This award compliments two previous EWC awards won in 2013 while working for PF Olsen (Best Start-up Business and Forestry Excellence).

"This is a well-deserved win that recognised efforts around initiatives taken to improve both crew culture and applied field systems development" says Jason Blair, Gisborne Branch Forest Manager. "As a newcomer in 2012 Rimurapa needed a break. They showed solid early potential. Their Health and Safety was as good as any I had seen particularly from a silviculture crew. The crew was rewarded for these efforts and were retained despite a diminishing work program."

Jason thinks the crew's attitude is great. "Lee and Wix are very independent individuals that don't like being spoon-fed. They prefer to be pointed in the right direction and then provide their own solutions. They are not afraid of change or having their work critiqued; they utilise all the resources available to them and get on with it."

Rimurapa constantly strives to improve its systems to provide the best outcomes for its workers on the cutting face. Of critical importance is seeking buy-in from each crew member a proactive (opposed to reactive) culture. With forestry under scrutiny, rather than sitting back and potentially becoming another statistic, this company has invested significant time and resources to identify several risk areas, implement systems and dramatically improve workplace safety.

The judges gave an extra-special mention for the following quote that was shared with the audience on the night:

Rimurapa Silviculture Crew

"Creating an accident free and safe workplace depends on the attitude of those involved. With positive buy-in from like-minded individuals, anything is possible."
(Lee Cudd, Director, Rimurapa Ltd)

Key Health & Safety Initiatives

Described as leaders of change with regards to health & safety, Rimurapa strive to:

  • Identify areas of high risk potential within the workplace.
  • Proactively develop systems, processes and in-house training that exceed ACOP and Competenz Best Practice Guidelines.
  • Improve technical ability of crew members.
  • Develop a positive and proactive health and safety culture within the crew.

This is achieved by:

  • One of the "first-movers" to onsite RT communications for tree felling in thinning operations. 
  • Addressing and managing worker fatigue through the following initiatives:
    • reducing kit weight from 25kg to 15kg, achieved by matching chainsaw size to task and using lighter, water-resistant chaps and Schoen Grade 4 gumboots
    • investing in gear bags with shoulder harnesses
    • suitable rest breaks with an emphasis on rehydration
  • Making systems easy to follow and understand:
    • 5-step tree felling procedure stickers are on all chainsaws in view of the operator
    • design of procedural guidance "cue-cards" for all workers – including:
      • 2 tree length procedures
      • tree drive management
      • emergency and EPIRB procedures
      • felling 7 harms
      • guidelines for ceasing work in high winds
  • Using technology to assist both safety training and production

In field technology

Innovative Use of Technology

Rimurapa uses a GoPro camera for review and improvement of operational techniques. Workers, although initially apprehensive about the "boss watching", are now all keen on a turn!

Video footage is reviewed and translated to a hardcopy template. This process essentially complements the Safe Behavioural Observation and training process. Areas of improvement can be identified and discussed with the crew member with "real-time" imagery to assist discussions and learning.

Using the Go-Pro encourages individual responsibility towards consistently improving behaviours and habits. Most importantly crew members have expressed positive feedback to this innovation.

Using Go-pro

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