Farmers need expert help with woodlots, says WorkSafe
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 www.worksafe.govt.nz website in the forestry section.
The Good Practice Guideline for woodlot harvesting published by WorkSafe NZ.