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Clarky's Comment - October, Shop Floor Walkabouts

Shop Floor Walkabouts

As CEO of a forestry management firm I am acutely aware of the impact I can personally have on the safety culture of both staff and contractors. But just how does one influence those making the day to day decisions that lead to getting home safely each day, or not? Setting policies, running committees and imposing rules can only go so far.

The management texts call it the shop floor walkabout. In the forestry context it means meeting with harvesting and silviculture crews on their own turf. With 70 harvesting crews throughout New Zealand I do not get to every crew every year but do get to visit as many as I can. During these visits I share what I know about the operating environment, markets and topics of general forestry interest. I also explain the importance of timely and open 2-way communications between property managers and contractors if we are to jointly deliver on the objectives of forest owners, including managing statutory risks well.

Topics covered may vary with context and questions raised but typically include recent incidents and learnings from elsewhere in the company or the industry, common hazards, training, nutrition, fatigue and mental alertness, consequences of rule breaking, fuel management, powerlines, sediment controls, driving to/from work, worker facilities and any site or work method issues raised by the crew members.

The main purpose of my visits is to reinforce the messages and culture that prime contractors, foremen and PF Olsen supervisor staff are regularly communicating. Matters raised may, or may not, lead to any immediate or direct change but feedback is that the crews appreciate the effort and the message it sends that senior management does care about them as individuals.

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