In 2013, ten forestry workers died in New Zealand, and the country’s first forestry-related manslaughter charges were laid. For Dennis Hayes Logging director, Jeremy Hayes, worker safety is paramount, as described in this case study.
Better worker safety: “Health and safety is huge in New Zealand, but the MOTOTRBO* digital mobile radio (DMR) system has improved safety as everyone knows what’s going on and where everyone is. Communication between logging crew members is key. With the risk of 48 tonne machines causing injuries, we need constant and clear communication,” says Hayes.
“Tree fellers often work on opposite sides of a hill, unseen by anyone. Previously they had to call in every 30 minutes, but now the radio starts an alert tone at 27 minutes. If they don’t call in within two minutes, an emergency beacon is sent to the whole crew. Workers can get on with the job without worrying about keeping track of time yet they’re still monitored for safety in the lone-worker situation.”
“Every morning, we record which radio each worker has, so if the emergency beacon goes off we know who is affected. Also, we plan to implement the man-down function. If the handset is horizontal for more than a certain period of time, the alarm goes off. Both times we’ve been audited, the inspectors were impressed by the gear.”
Call clarity: “We’ve got great clarity – I can’t explain how much better it is. When I first used it, it was like the guy was sitting beside me. We use the Bluetooth digital headset in the log hauler for clarity of commands. It’s really important that commands get through and are heard correctly, every time. There’s a decreased chance of missed communications, which is critical when dealing with wire ropes extending up to one kilometre long, working loads of up to 25 tonnes and three guys standing in a safe zone dictating rope movements.”
Multiple channels: “We have three channels: one for log extraction, one for felling and general operations and the loader uses the third channel to speak to the truck driver while loading logs, to maintain a safe distance while retaining full communication and control. I can also make private calls, such as talking to the foreman.”
“I can text information to the whole group or an individual.”
Voice recording functionality: “We record all voice calls, which is essential for any incident analysis. Where trees are dragged up the flying fox system we have colour coded zones (ie red means high risk) to determine where guys should stand. We can record employees as they change zones, and are considering GPS tracking functionality on the handhelds to ensure that employees are the correct distance away from the working ropes.”
Improved efficiency: “Safety is the biggest thing, but efficiency has definitely improved even if it’s hard to quantify. For example, the hauler still has to collate calls but there’s no need to stop and manually write down times of calls like before.”
“The knowledge base of CRS Communications ((Central Radio Services) was very good, and they are keen to try new things. They also customised what I wanted, and delivered on that.”
* MOTOTRBO is Motorola’s digital mobile radio (DMR) solution.