Injuries highlight need for breaker-out BPG
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.