In­juries high­light need for breaker-out BPG

New Zealand Logger - - Forest Talk -

A NEW BEST PRAC­TICE GUIDE FOR BREAKER-OUTS HAS BEEN pub­lished by Com­pe­tenz and it couldn’t come at a more crit­i­cal time.

A spike in se­ri­ous in­juries to breaker-outs on steep forestry sites around New Zealand in re­cent weeks has height­ened the need for ex­tra care and vig­i­lance for those work­ing in this haz­ardous oc­cu­pa­tion.

Safety of­fi­cials hope the new guide will help log­gers to bet­ter un­der­stand the risks in break­ing out and how to avoid them. The Break­ing Out Best Prac­tice Guide fol­lows a sim­i­lar pub­li­ca­tion for tree fall­ers that was re­leased in the mid­dle of last year.

The lat­est guide has been put to­gether with in­put from con­trac­tors and for­est own­ers, and uses a lot of the ma­te­rial de­vel­oped by Les Bak and his team at Nel­son Forests over re­cent years, along with as­sis­tance from WorkSafe and ACC. As with the Tree Fall­ing BPG, the Break­ing Out BPG is be­ing posted on the Com­pe­tenz and SafeTree web­sites, in ad­di­tion to be­ing made avail­able in printed for­mats for crews to have on hand in their smoko huts.

In spite of the in­tro­duc­tion of more mech­a­ni­sa­tion to the slopes, break­ing out is still un­der­taken by peo­ple on the ground in nu­mer­ous lo­ca­tions around the coun­try, often in very haz­ardous places.

The dan­gers of the job were brought home by a spate of se­ri­ous leg and back in­juries to breaker-outs from con­tact with stems, stumps and ropes, which led FISC, the For­est In­dus­try Safety Coun­cil, to is­sue an alert.

These in­ci­dents re­sulted in bro­ken legs (one breaker-out had both legs bro­ken), back in­juries and lac­er­a­tions. In some cases, a good emer­gency re­sponse was the only thing that stopped some­one dy­ing.

FISC says that for con­trac­tors and crews, these in­juries high­light the im­por­tance of good plan­ning and com­mu­ni­ca­tion. At the tail­gate meet­ing make sure ev­ery­one knows the plan and what’s changed.

And for for­est own­ers and man­agers, there is a need to en­sure pro­duc­tion pres­sures and ad­verse con­di­tions aren’t com­pro­mis­ing safety.

The FISC alert goes on to stress the im­por­tance of the five crit­i­cal de­fences against se­ri­ous in­jury in forestry, namely:

• Plan­ning: for the block and for the day

• Com­mu­ni­ca­tion: what’s the plan, does ev­ery­one know it, is it work­ing, has any­thing changed

• Sep­a­ra­tion: dis­tance (2 tree lengths, safe re­treat), or time (not do­ing work at the same time)

• Com­pe­tency: peo­ple do­ing the work have the right mix of train­ing/skills/ex­pe­ri­ence to do the job

• Emer­gency re­sponse: there is a well-prac­tised re­sponse if any­one does get hurt.


The new Break­ing Out BPG, which can be viewed on the Com­pe­tenz and SafeTree web­sites, as well as in printed form.

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