Tilhill Forestry, January, 2021
by Chris Pike, Tilhill's Head of Safety & Assurance - Taken from The Leader Magazine 2020
Many things still feel familiar upon my return to Tilhill after three years in the Minerals Industry. Most of the faces
are familiar and many of the issues being worked on by Tilhill, and the wider industry, are the same as when I left. This shouldn’t come as a surprise though. The risk profile of any industry will remain largely the same through the years as the work required doesn’t fundamentally change. The technology moves on apace and the accepted work practices adapt to new technology/machinery. However, fundamentally, the forest industry is still tackling the challenges of steep, rough ground, falling trees, weather and climate and the individuality of each worksite.
We must acknowledge the work to improve Health and Safety in the industry over the years. Mechanisation has brought much improved safety, as has improved engineering and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). During the same period general societal acceptance of risk at work has also shifted, meaning we no longer accept things we did in the past. So, I question what will we look back on in 20 years and think to ourselves “I can’t believe we used to work like that”?
The introduction of Welfare provision on sites will be one such topic. For so long, both the industry and the regulator turned a blind eye, accepting that provision of welfare on forest sites was not ‘Reasonably Practicable’. This has all changed. The past two years has seen this requirement be introduced. The industry is still at the trialling stage and there have been, and probably will be, a few more bumps along the road, but this will form part of our normal
working scene going forward.
More than just a toilet facility, welfare can provide a place to hold site documentation, a place for site meetings and somewhere for workers to get away from the weather, dry out and get changed. Welfare will also play a significant role in making our industry more attractive and accessible for a more diverse workforce. Not everyone is willing to hide behind a bush to relieve themselves! For me, these are the real benefits of welfare; the cultural impact and helping to professionalise the industry.
Advancing Safety and Assurance
Reflecting on my experience in Minerals there are some examples that we in Forestry can follow to achieve the improvements we are seeking in our Safety and Health record. These will form the basis of our continued striving at Tilhill to Insist on Safety. As I look to how we will advance Safety and Assurance in the coming years we will follow three themes:
• Competence. We need to ensure that all parties in the work chain are competent
in their roles. This includes Operators, Supervisors, Managers and Directors. Each of these roles have different competency requirements. We will review and enhance our competence framework for our own
staff. Competence runs across all aspects of the work we perform. This includes technical competence in the role, as well as competence in Health, Safety, Environment and Quality aspects of the work, including how planning will affect those undertaking the work.
• Use of technology. We will continue to lead on the use of technology, from our fleet of drones and competent drone pilots to real time in the field planning and reporting tools. The technology must add value to our work and be integrated into our work system in order for us to draw the most from it.|
• Collaboration. We will continue to play our role within the Forest Industry Safety Accord and the Forest Industry Environment Group. We will continue to collaborate andsupport our contractors in improving working practices and controls. So, by looking forwards we also need to look backwards and around us to truly understand the long-term Safety and Assurance challenges that we still need to meet and take inspiration from how others have tackled similar issues.
Read more from The Leader 2020:Tilhill's Annual Magazine: