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Old Dogs – New Tricks!

44 is not only a great calibre of pig hunting rifle – it is also the number of years that Gary Inman, the winner of the PF Olsen Staff 2016 Health and Safety Management Award, has spent working in the Forest Industry.

In fact there would be few people in the industry that haven’t had at least some time or contact with Gary and he would easily be the most experienced harvest manager working for PF Olsen.

Gary started his career with NZ Forest products, which later became Carter Holt Harvey (CHH) and has been working for PF Olsen for over twelve years. Back in the day, forestry work was synonymous with – the Kaingaroa, Kinleith and Matahina to name a few, however, in recent times it is true that safety comes to mind when people think and talk about our industry.

In the last two years, Gary has managed a number of high profile, high-risk harvest operations in the Bay Of Plenty area. Adding to the complexity are such things as harvesting adjacent to power line corridors, and roadside felling next to a busy state highway all the while working to keep social issues such as drug taking in check.  To complete these successfully, without incident, with sound management plans in place and with happy contractors, has been no simple task!

Part of Gary’s success has been his ability to work with the contractors to help them understand their Health and Safety obligations. His philosophy is all about ‘prevention’, evidenced by the low injury rates consistently produced in the crews under his management. To achieve excellence Gary spends a good deal of his time observing the operations, talking to the various operators, and offering his thoughts and suggestions as appropriate. It’s a recipe that certainly seems to work!

Gary also personally assesses every new worker – it’s important to him to understand the skills and capabilities each of them bring to the job.  Gary says, “…When I drive away, I need to be confident in my own mind that the job is under control and the workers are safe.”

During his time in the industry, Gary has seen both the good and bad.

Experience can be a cruel teacher. He adds, “I do what I do because I personally have attended more than one fatality, and I’m still able to clearly visualise each scene and feel the frustration of the waste of a life that could have been prevented.”

The other side of the coin is the safety advances that are happening and the combined will of every one to keep moving forward to keep people safe. PF Olsen is involved in several initiatives to do just that. For example, having compulsory tree feller observers, tree feller certification, mechanised felling where possible, and the introduction of tethered machines for steep country tree felling.

Gary says, “…Injuries at work are unacceptable and harmful to how the industry is viewed. Everyone has to improve, it is personal, and the power of observation, intervention, and continual learning cannot be underestimated as means of injury prevention.”

Well done Gary! And congratulations on winning the 2016 Health and Safety Management Award.