FISA Steering Group Meeting 6 September 2017 - Chair notes


FISA Steering Group Meeting 6 September 2017 - Chair notes

27 Sep 2017

The tragic news of three deaths* in UK forests in three months dominated two hours of discussions at the start of the 6 September Steering Group meeting.


FISA has been challenged to more clearly identify & communicate its priorities. The Steering Group has agreed strategy for 2017 to 2019 and will prioritise help and support for the timber supply chain by:

  • Establishing a culture where a workers experience and professional development is both recognised and valued by the supply chain.
  • Changing culture; by consistently creating and prioritising time for safety communications and work planning, at inception and at the front line of delivery
  • Help landowners to better understand their Duty of Care ; support safer ways of selling timber and working; challenging agents and investment advisors to recognise their responsibilities for safe delivery across the supply chain.
  • Establishing FISA communications across the supply chain to raise awareness and learn lessons. 

Of seven top priority projects aligned to this strategy, this meeting focused on two:

The Chain Saw Project. 

Two deaths in 2017 have involved use of chainsaws in the forest. This initiative takes the recently published AFAG Chainsaw Project Paper and tests this against the reality faced by chainsaw users. This feedback will be used to set objectives and agree actions that change the way saw-users are supported and rewarded for an increasingly (and inherently) dangerous occupation. Higher-risk activities are increasingly pushed to the margins of site and of managerial focus.

In conjunction FISA has committed to focus on private, public and third sector landowners and agents behaviour when selling timber at the front end of the decision making process.

Timber Sale Safety ‘Accord’

At inception of the planning process and start of the timber supply chain, commercial decision-making associated with the sale of timber determines much of the freedom of action of all participants, from that point forward. As a consequence of communication failure(s) to identify risk before price is agreed, contractors can be placed in an invidious commercial environment where safety is compromised.

FISA is going to promote a two-phase timber sale where safety is the focus of initial discussion with both potential bidders (and their contractors) and/or preferred suppliers, to identify risk, mitigation and contingency. Creating inherently safer plans and where time is created in-process for all to achieve safer outcomes. FISA will propose a draft process and pilot it in use in the private, public and third sectors.

These initiatives will require all the industry (from growers to end users) to recognise the consequences of inaction and then to align and support, in the spirit of the Accord?

There are many other important projects and actions within the Working Groups (that are available to view on the website) and among these are work on: wire watcher in-cab detection systems; chain-shot risk; training for FWM’s; release of the new / updated FISA Safety Guides.. The latter are expected to be published shortly, including those related to hung up trees (that have been long awaited by the Industry).

Thanks to all who freely contribute time and energy to FISA Working Groups.

I attended the annual HSE conference in London on 18 September, on behalf of FISA. FISA continues to benefit from the support and insight of the HSE who gave an update and highlighted their continued focus on the Agriculture (inc forestry) sector, which experienced 34 fatalities in 2016. It struck me UK forestry has a long way to travel, compared to many of the UK industrial sectors represented at the conference, in terms of safety performance and Duty of Care across the supply chain.

Governance & financial issues discussed, included a much improved cash-flow position and subsequent allocation of funds to support Working Groups, in the approved Budget for year ending 30 Sept 2018.  The Board and Steering Group composition was reviewed and nominations and voting will follow for five categories of Steering Group membership, including further ‘forest management contractor’ places. FISA will also strengthen landowner representation, to help improve communications with timber growers and their advisors.

FISA awarded the Lycetts Trophy for outstanding contribution to forestry safety, to Steve Dresser for his work with chainsaw users and trainers and dedicated service to the industry. FISA also thanked Chris Pike for his support during the initial set up of FISA and his input to FISA Working Groups.  Colin Mann FISA outgoing Chair was also thanked for his support to FISA over the last four years.

The FISA Board encourages all members to hold their sector representatives to account for attending these meetings on your behalf and insofar as they benefit from the discussion and raising of awareness that they communicate more effectively and lead by example in their sector as a result

Alastair Sandels - FISA Chair

* FISA is only able to report on these tragic accidents in so far as those involved and HSE permit. A record of the meeting will be made available in October on the FISA website