First Komatsu 875 in Australasia
IGOT TALKING TO A LOGGING CONTRACTOR RECENTLY ABOUT THE scourge of drugs in forestry. It appears that some people might be under the impression we’ve got the problem under control through strict anti-drugs policies, including random testing. We haven’t.
The experience of this logger is a sobering one.
Over the past three months he’s lost half his crew through drugs. All were caught out by random testing and he’s finding it hard to replace them because likely candidates are either put off by having to be tested or they fail a pre-employment test.
Then he watches them go off and join a crew that’s less vigilant with its drug and safety standards.
How frustrating is that?
It’s not an isolated story. I’ve heard similar examples from contractors up and down the country. Some regions are worse than others, but it’s still a pretty common occurrence.
You’d think these people would be smart enough to know that modern methods are going to catch them out at some point if they continue to do drugs. They obviously aren’t. Or maybe it’s because they know they’ll land a job with someone else who doesn’t care as much.
It makes my blood boil.
The contractors who give jobs to drug users are as bad as those who actually take the drugs. They’re putting the lives of their employees at risk should one of these people make a mistake whilst ‘high’.
Forestry as a whole in New Zealand has adopted a Zero Harm policy when it comes to safety, but this sort of thing undermines it.
What worries me is that society appears to be taking a softer stance towards drugs like cannabis and there’s growing calls for New Zealand to follow the example of some US states and others in legalising dope.
It would be a dopey thing to do because it sends a message that it’s OK to smoke a bit of wacky baccy because it ain’t doing any harm. Yes it is. Cannabis slows down reaction times and affects decision making; two of the most important qualities needed in a forestry worker.
Plus, there is research to show that starting on cannabis leads to stronger drugs.
We need to maintain a hard line on drug taking, not just in forestry, but across New Zealand society. There are generations growing up in homes where drugs have been the norm for years.
It’s a hard habit to break, but we need to make a stand.
I’d like to see a register of those who fail drug tests in the forest so that contractors can check on prospective employees before hiring them. Similarly, contractors who knowingly give jobs to drug takers should be blacklisted and prevented from working in the forest on safety grounds.
It would certainly drive the message home that we don’t want drugs in our industry.