We now live in risk-averse times, where in­di­vid­ual ac­count­abil­ity seems to have been del­e­gated to the com­mu­nity. Climb a lad­der and it ap­pears that the world is watch­ing and ex­press­ing thoughts on the per­ceived risks! It’s rather hard to avoid now, with laws set­ting out who gets the blame for in­ci­dents that harm in­di­vid­u­als. For that rea­son, or­gan­i­sa­tions like the Depart­ment of Con­ser­va­tion ( DOC) have taken what could be seen by some as ex­treme and pedan­tic mea­sures to avoid risks. A typ­i­cal ex­am­ple is that of chain­saw use on DOC man­aged pub­lic land ( it’s ac­tu­ally il­le­gal to have a chain­saw in a ve­hi­cle on DOC lands with­out per­mis­sion). So, how do you get per­mis­sion to use a chain­saw on DOC es­tate? There is for­mal ex­ter­nal train­ing to start with and that is to at least the ‘Unit Stan­dards’ 6916 and 6917, along with need­ing a cur­rent First Aid cer­tifi­cate. Those are fol­lowed by a ‘com­pe­tency’ as­sess­ment over sev­eral hours of ob­ser­va­tion by a qual­i­fied asses­sor. A rough tally of the costs of those pro­cesses with Unit Stan­dard train­ing over two days at around $ 500, First Aid train­ing over one day $ 150 and a com­pe­tency as­sess­ment over an­other day at $ 150 plus, means you’d be cough­ing up al­most $ 1000 just to wield a chain­saw. It seems that the risks of us­ing a chain­saw are pri­mar­ily to the op­er­a­tor, with the cut­ting bar never more than an arm’s length from one’s body and limbs. On that ba­sis, it is noted that cur­rently, the use of a cut­ting bar on a pole ( a pole saw) is not reg­u­lated, but sources tell me that some rules are im­mi­nent. A cal­cu­lated guess sug­gests that such rules would fol­low the pat­tern of those ap­plied to scrub-bars/ brush cut­ters, with their ro­tat­ing cut­ting blades on a shaft. Again, the blade is away from the op­er­a­tor, but a new risk is to other peo­ple who might move into the area around a ma­chine op­er­a­tor. The cur­rent DOC Health and Safety re­quire­ment is for in­tend­ing op­er­a­tors to com­plete a ‘self-as­sess­ment’ form and then un­der­take an ob­served com­pe­tency as­sess­ment by a qual­i­fied per­son. Of course, a part of the ‘com­pe­tency’ is to be kit­ted out in the ap­pro­pri­ate per­sonal pro­tec­tion equip­ment ( PPE). The pa­per work around the use of scrub-bars can be found on the web­site www. friend­sof42­tra­ Once you’ve been ap­proved as com­pe­tent, you then be­come a ‘qual­i­fied per­son’. There are of course other cut­ting tools for tree branches etc. that in­clude man­ual saws such as bow saws and prun­ing saws. The ad­vent of ef­fec­tive bat­ter­ies has even made the re­cip­ro­cat­ing saw a vi­able op­tion for cut­ting branches and I sus­pect that DOC prob­a­bly don’t yet have rules around those. We may just have to rec­on­cile our­selves to not hav­ing the use of chain­saws on DOC es­tate! Con­tin­u­ing on the theme of DOC; dur­ing Septem­ber they put for­ward a ‘ dis­cus­sion’ draft for “Stan­dards for 4WD roads on pub­lic con­ser­va­tion lands”. The DOC ex­pla­na­tion stated in part “Depart­ment of Con­ser­va­tion is want­ing to know what 4WD en­thu­si­asts want when they are us­ing suit­able DOC roads on pub­lic con­ser­va­tion land. DOC’s roads were in­spected in 2016 by Opus and we are now in the process of de­vel­op­ing what we call “ser­vice stan­dards” for the roads, in­clud­ing roads that are suit­able only for 4WD ve­hi­cles. These have been clas­si­fied “lim­ited ac­cess – 4WD” as part of the coun­try’s One Net­work Road Clas­si­fi­ca­tion.” In the draft they had iden­ti­fied two cat­e­gories of 4WD use of roads clas­si­fied “Lim­ited ac­cess – 4WD”: 4WD re­cre­ation” – these cater pri­mar­ily for vis­i­tors want­ing a 4WD re­cre­ation ex­pe­ri­ence on pub­lic con­ser­va­tion land. They may be with a club or group or trav­el­ling in a sin­gle ve­hi­cle and are look­ing for a driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence in iso­lated back­coun­try lo­ca­tions. While these peo­ple are the pri­mary users, the roads may also pro­vide a re­cre­ation op­por­tu­nity for moun­tain­bik­ers, horse rid­ers, mo­tor bik­ers, off-road bik­ers, LUV users, walk­ers and tram­pers. 4WD other” – these cater for vis­i­tors, DOC staff and oth­ers who want ac­cess to or through pub­lic con­ser­va­tion land and the road is cur­rently in a con­di­tion that makes it suit­able only for those us­ing 4WD ve­hi­cles. In many cases, “4WD stan­dard” is not the ideal, as it re­stricts the num­bers of peo­ple and types of ve­hi­cle that can safely use the road. The con­sul­ta­tion draft went to sev­eral 4WD groups for

com­ments, that were re­quested to be pro­vided to DOC by 12 Oc­to­ber. It will be in­ter­est­ing to fol­low the progress and see if those re­sponses to the draft make a dif­fer­ence. Will DOC ac­cept changes to their pro­posal to limit gra­di­ents as pro­posed, although there is recog­ni­tion that steeper may still be al­lowed? Max­i­mum gra­di­ent:

4WD Re­cre­ation – No more than 18 de­grees ( 32.5 per­cent or 1: 3.1) where there is also a lack of “grip­pi­ness” of the sur­face in nor­mal weather con­di­tions

4WD Other – No more than 15 de­grees ( 26.8 per­cent or 1: 3.7) where there is also a lack of “grip­pi­ness” of the sur­face in nor­mal weather con­di­tions. Note: The likely im­pact on con­ser­va­tion val­ues will be con­sid­ered be­fore a de­ci­sion is made to ap­ply the max­i­mum gra­di­ent stan­dards where a sec­tion of the road ex­ceeds the max­i­mum. Where it is de­cided that stan­dards are not met, pre­visit and on-site in­for­ma­tion to prospec­tive road users will be suf­fi­cient to en­sure they un­der­stand the lower stan­dard of the road be­fore they em­bark on their trip. If the con­cept opens more ac­cess to DOC man­aged lands, then maybe our re­cre­ation might have to ac­cept some lim­i­ta­tions in the in­ter­est of sus­tain­abil­ity of those routes, rather than los­ing ac­cess en­tirely.

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