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OSH and forest owners agree on chainsaw code

13 Dec 2004

OSH and the NZ Forest Owners Association have reached agreement on a guideline for the safe chainsaw pruning of trees where workers are using ladders.

After two years of discussions and demonstrations, a revised Silviculture Pruning Best Practice Guideline has been produced which OSH is pleased to endorse. It is a good example of industry and OSH working closely together with a clear objective," says OSH forestry manager Ross Hodder.

"The biggest change is that it is now the responsibility of the employer to determine whether an employee is competent to do this potentially dangerous work. The employer needs to properly document this process and to ensure that the staff concerned have obtained or are training for their NZQA units in manual and chainsaw pruning."

The guidelines require operators, while in training, to wear fall restraints while working with their feet 3 metres or more above the ground. All operators? — whether trained or not? — are required to use an approved fall restraint when pruning with their feet 4.5 metres or more above the ground.

Chainsaws used for ladder pruning may be up to 40 cc in engine size and must have a top-handle design and special chain guards. Ladders must have several special features, including a 400 x 200 mm non-slip top platform with a ‘V ’ notch, and a chain lanyard positioned between the first and third rung from the top for tying the ladder to the tree.

Operators must wear Grade 4 earmuffs, a high-viz safety helmet, chainsaw protective leg-wear and steel toe capped boots. They must also carry two sterile wound dressings.

NZ Forest Owners Association chief executive Rob McLagan says he is satisfied with the outcome of the project.

"While finalising the guideline took longer than we anticipated, the process provided valuable lessons on how the private sector and industry can co-operate in making the forest a safer place to work. Everyone is a winner from this."

The guideline came into operation on 10 December. Printed copies will be available from FITEC in February. However, details of the changes will be sent to contractors and forest owners during the next week.

Both Mr Hodder and Mr McLagan say OSH, the association, the Forest Industries Contractors' Association and representatives of employees are working together on other initiatives to improve safety in the forests.

"OSH is pleased that a culture of safety" — from those working in the forests to senior management? — is now well established in the industry," concludes Mr Hodder.