Worksafe NZ are discussing a new standard in forestry for the use of winches in steep slope harvesting. The prediction is they will be used more and more as the industry booms in the next few years. One view is that the standard should be a “personnel rating” standard because these machines are “suspended” by tethering as they work down a slope.
Machines that are suspended such as amusement devices and suspended scaffolding and lifts all require consideration of a back-up system for if they fail. This is because they carry people! This might for example be a second cable for tethering or a brake on the drum in case of primary failure of the braking system, which can happen down a steep hill with a heavy load.
The other option is a standard with a “materials rating” which is more around the specs and use for the machine. The difference in rating was reflected for example in the provisions for the tension on the rope wire which was restricted to 20% of its breaking load for personnel rated equipment and 33% for materials rated equipment.
There is already evidence of these machines tipping and hurting workers and you will also be aware of braking failures of machines in forestry already. It seems to us that when the machine is suspended over a hill, carrying logs – this increases the risk of injury.
We want safety to govern the decision as to the type of standard needed, and believe the new health and safety laws will mean a personnel rating is the only type of regulation that will meet the legislative test.
We have a staff member from a union (Edward) willing to go on the group doing this work but need a forest worker with sufficient knowledge to work with Edward and provide the “forest floor” view. You will be well supported and will learn heaps and your time will be paid. We hope your employer will support your time off to do this work, as worker voice is an essential part of getting these standards right! We can help facilitate this.
How about you? If you are interested you can talk to us confidentially about it before making the decision. If you know someone else (a trainer etc) who would do a good job on this – shoulder tap them and ask them to put their name forward.
If you have a view on this work – you can also share it here without your name appearing on the site!