Last year was extremely busy for all of us, with the added pressure of working through various Covid restrictions. I therefore wanted to start this year by reflecting on 2021, it’s challenges and how together we overcame them.
2021 was a tricky year to navigate and work through due to the Covid pandemic. This brought many challenges as restrictions were lifted and reimposed at different times with differing requirements in each nation. There is no doubt that this has had an impact, to a greater or lesser extent, on our wellbeing.
Through the year our Mental Health First Aid team have worked behind the scenes supporting our staff and recognising both the annual Mental Health Awareness Week and Day by producing special Bulletins. Our response to the Covid pandemic has considered the impact on our employees and has supported them wherever possible, while keeping in line with the various restrictions. We will continue to do this while the pandemic runs its course.
In September 2020 we launched our online Diffuse Pollution training, to date well over six hundred individuals have completed the course. This is a marvellous achievement, thank you if you have completed the training. We are seeing more proactive management of water, mud and siltation on sites than even just 3 years ago. This is in part due to better planning, but also to the awareness and actions of all those working on our sites.
The risk of diffuse pollution will be something we have to manage each year, wetter weather, with more intense rainfall events continue to make this a challenge, but one I am proud to see us improving on year on year.
I cannot write this piece without reflecting on the shocking statistic that 9 people were killed at work last year involving chainsaw work. These were spread between forestry and arboriculture. We are committed to ensuring all our own staff, contractors and other stakeholders go home to their families at the end of each working day. We are committed to working collaboratively with all parties to make this a reality for all in our industry.It is vital that all chainsaw works are properly assessed, undertaken by competent operators and supervised and monitored adequately.
Tilhill provides all its managers with basic chainsaw awareness training and during 2021 established Chainsaw Champions in each region. These individuals have previous chainsaw experience and received a further two day in forest training considering planning and monitoring chainsaw works. Tilhill supports the work of the FISA Chainsaw Working Group as they work on bringing better recognition of chainsaw competence to the industry.
Looking forward to 2022, there is still more work to do. The renewed interest from politicians, the media and the general public in forestry brings a spotlight on the industry and what we do. This brings both opportunities and challenges.
Weather patterns seemingly continue to change, tree pests and diseases bring not only silvicultural but also safety challenges, and we must continue to do all we can to eliminate fatal injuries.
We have set out our Action Plan for 2022 detailing our next steps to addressing these challenges. We cannot do this alone and will support FISA and the Forest Industry Environment Group, but also ask that all our employees and contractors work with us to achieve our goals.
May we all have a very safe and environmentally sound, 2022.