Forest owners want people to speak up

8 June 2014

The sponsors of the Independent Forestry Safety Review welcome the public consultation document issued by the review panel on Friday.

"It poses a series of questions which will provide a useful structure for the public consultation meetings that begin on 12 June. We strongly encourage forest owners, contractors, workers and anyone else with an interest in improving the safety of people working in forestry to go to one of the meetings, or to make a private submission," says Forest Owners Association (FOA) president Paul Nicholls.

"If you have ideas, the panel wants to hear them. If you can't reach a meeting, or feel uncomfortable speaking publicly, there is a worker feedback form on the panel's website and contact details for emails and phone calls.

"The panel is also having a series of private meetings with forest workers which we strongly encourage workers to take advantage of. It is crucial that the panel hears from those whose safety is most at risk."

The FOA, along with the Forest Contractors and the Farm Forestry Association, have sponsored the independent inquiry. Mr Nicholls says the sponsors are encouraged that the panel recognises that forest safety is a complex issue that will need a multi-stranded approach in order to improve the situation.

"One of the challenges highlighted in the consultation document is a lack of consistency across the industry when it comes to training, application of Codes of Practice, safety standards and regulatory oversight. While the sector is very diverse, there is no reason why a high standard of safety cannot be uniformly applied in all our forests.

"We welcome practical options for achieving this. As the panel acknowledges, there is an opportunity to learn from good practice and apply it more widely. We are also pleased to note the emphasis they place on an appropriate safety culture as a vital ingredient in achieving the outcomes that everyone wants.

"Ensuring that health and safety requirements are supported and incorporated into the contracts between forest owners and managers, and those who tend and harvest their forests, has been identified by the review as an important underpinning of a safer system. We agree."

For more information, please contact Paul Nicholls, Tel 027 595 8708