Farm­ers need ex­pert help with wood­lots, says WorkSafe

New Zealand Logger - - Forest Talk -

FARM­ERS HAVE BEEN WARNED BY WorkSafe NZ to seek pro­fes­sional as­sis­tance when har­vest­ing wood­lots due to safety con­cerns.

As more wood­lots start to come on stream, largely on steep and dif­fi­cult ter­rain, WorkSafe is fo­cus­ing more at­ten­tion on this sec­tor of forestry.

These smaller blocks will re­quire skilled and ex­pe­ri­enced op­er­a­tors to har­vest them, says WorkSafe Chief Ex­ec­u­tive, Ni­cole Rosie

There is a fear that some wood­lot own­ers will cut cor­ners be­cause of the high ex­pense in­volved in har­vest­ing trees on steeper and more in­ac­ces­si­ble sites, pos­ing a higher risk.

“The risks of those logs, be­cause they are steep, be­cause they are on dif­fi­cult ter­rain and they are small that peo­ple could use in­ex­pe­ri­enced log­gers or re­vert to tech­niques that are high­est risk tech­niques,” says Ms Rosie.

WorkSafe is call­ing on farm­ers to use an ‘in­dus­trial-scale’ har­vest­ing op­er­a­tion be­cause it is re­garded as safer, since op­er­a­tors are able to utilise higher tech­nol­ogy mech­a­ni­sa­tion that re­moves peo­ple from many dan­ger­ous sit­u­a­tions.

Ms Rosie says the risks for farm­ers tak­ing the cheaper op­tion should not be un­der­es­ti­mated.

“You might think it’s a cost-ef­fec­tive op­tion – it’s not,” she says.

“The in­ci­dence of death and in­jury are re­ally high his­tor­i­cally in the types of op­er­a­tions these guys are do­ing which is steep op­er­a­tions and man­ual felling – that is the high­est risk op­er­a­tion from a forestry per­spec­tive.”

Even though wood­lots are small in scale, they are still re­quired to have a man­age­ment plan and safe ac­cess for peo­ple cut­ting trees.

Landown­ers could also be in breach of the new health and safety leg­is­la­tion if they chose to har­vest the trees them­selves, she adds.

WorkSafe NZ has pro­duced guides to safer har­vest­ing for wood­lot own­ers which are read­ily avail­able on­line.

Last year it pub­lished its first set of good prac­tice guide­lines for these own­ers, called ‘Man­ag­ing a Safe and Healthy Small For­est Har­vest’. This 36-page doc­u­ment of­fered small for­est own­ers prac­ti­cal ad­vice on man­ag­ing a har­vest safely and healthily, rec­om­mend­ing they start plan­ning well be­fore they in­tend to get their trees cut down.

The guide also ad­vises them on how to en­gage com­pe­tent pro­fes­sional to help with the task, shows them how to work with other PCBUs to man­age the risks and also how to mon­i­tor health and safety ar­range­ments and im­prove them where pos­si­ble.

WorkSafe has also pub­lished a sim­ple 2-page in­for­ma­tion sheet that cov­ers the key points on har­vest­ing wood­lots in a more read­ily di­gestible for­mat. It’s called ‘What you need to know be­fore you har­vest the wood­lot on your farm’.

Both are handy doc­u­ments that con­trac­tors who are al­ready work­ing in wood­lots or plan­ning to do so in fu­ture should down­load and have avail­able to show farm­ers or oth­ers who own small forests what is in­volved. Both can be found on the web­site in the forestry sec­tion.


The Good Prac­tice Guide­line for wood­lot har­vest­ing pub­lished by WorkSafe NZ.

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