A partnership agreement signed today between Forestry Tasmania and the Tasmanian Forest Contractors Association (TFCA) promises to deliver improved safety outcomes for forest workers.
The partnership provides for on-the-job training of forest contractors in safety management, allowing them to gain nationally recognised qualifications.
ManagingdDirector Bob Gordon said that the agreement recognised the need for all forest workers for a safe workplace.
“Last year Forestry Tasmania adopted a new set of corporate values, the first of which is: ‘we care for people and their environment.’
“The safety of all forest workers, be they employees or contractors, has always been important to Forestry Tasmania. Any safety incident, large or small, is recorded and followed up by trained staff.
“Because safety is so important to us, we are working with the forest industry to improve performance across the board.
“Our data shows that there is currently a higher rate of lost time injuries for forest contractors than there are for FT staff. This difference is caused by forest contractors working in uncontrolled environments and having varying levels of skills and knowledge in safety management.
“This situation is unacceptable, as all workers on state forest should operate within a safe workplace.
“The signing of today’s training partnership is a positive step towards reducing the safety gap between our employees and contractors.”
Gordon said the partnership will target forest contractor safety issues and provide for:
– a part time TFCA project manager, who will be responsible for delivering on-the-job training for forest contractors;
– safety training for forest contractors in hazard identification and risk assessment, especially in new harvesting methods such as aggregated retention;
– a higher level of participation in training by forest contractors, and access to nationally recognised qualifications in safety management;
– implementation of a safety management system, which will include audits; and
– access to mentors and a help line for workplace issues for forest contractors.
Gordon said the training program would be funded through the Tasmanian Community Forest Agreement (TCFA).
“Through this program, TCFA funds are helping to protect our most important asset – our forest workers – by delivering improved safety outcomes.”