First Ko­matsu 875 in Aus­trala­sia

New Zealand Logger - - Front Page -

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.


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