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World Day for Safety and Health at Work 2021 celebrated on 28 April to promote the prevention of occupational accidents and diseases globally.

FISA member updates are emailed out to over 1650 of you; please help to promote safety in your industry and your own workplace! 

In 2012 representatives from many of the leading industry organisations joined together to form a steering group. Together they developed the Forest Industry Safety Accord (FISA) which set out the commitment that each organisation, and the sector at large, could make to raise the standard of health and safety in their place of work.  FISA has continued to grow in both member number and recognition in the industry.

A major part within FISA is the role of the FISA Working Groups; as our World Safety Day focus, we thank all those FISA Working Group volunteers who have since 2012 shared their experience and volunteered their time to help guide the industry on a range of safety topics.  Today we have over 100 volunteers involved within the FISA Working Groups (WGs).  

As well as updating existing guidance FISA WGs add guidance for new methods of work and new equipment.  Guidance is there to support the industry, outlining safe practice. WG members help to respond to queries received by FISA, sharing answers, and supporting bulletins on the FISA web and email updates.

Photo credits to FISA WGs

Our ‘gatekeeper’, FISA Safety Documents WG ensures all safety guidance is in keeping with our guidance hierarchy, checking guidance suits the user.  New style guidance will shortly be added to the FISA website, with the addition of Technical Notes (TN) for those tasks not covered in manufacturer’s guidance for example pulling tracks back onto an excavator (on site). All newer FISA safety guidance is provided in easy to print format; please use the web copies to ensure you reference the most up to date version.  We will notify you of new releases via our email updates.

FISA Chainsaw WG previously shared details on the outline competency system via FISA email updates; a copy of this system is also hosted on the FISA website.  The WG will continue to revise and update the system over the coming months.  During the ongoing development, the WG will engage with industry sharing key elements, giving opportunity for industry to reflect and comment on the competency system.  The WG will in the coming weeks publish a bulletin explaining who the system applies too, and also your requirements if not applicable.  The WG will share answers to questions and queries received via the FISA email updates, if you have a question or query for the WG please email

Additionally, the WG will soon release the first of the new FISA Technical Notes:  TN001 Tree Jacks.  This is guidance aimed specifically for the operators to provide clarification on practices not covered by main industry guidance.  We will be seeking your feedback as to whether you find the Technical Notes helpful.

A newly formed FISA Chainsaw WG ‘High-Risk Exclusion Zones Sub-Group’ will focus on raising awareness across the chainsaw sector on the importance of risk zones in preventing accidents.  It will focus initially on chainsaw operations, where a significant proportion of serious and fatal accidents would have been prevented had either appropriate risk zones (two tree lengths) or adequate escape routes been implemented.  Its approach will be informed by the research carried out by Dr Amy Irwin of the University of Aberdeen on chainsaw workers safety and will be published in the near future. 

FISA Skills & Development WG focus is on the development of an outline to support the competency development for the Forest Works Manager (FWM).  In this industry the FWM is the person or organisation who commissions the work on a forestry site and is the most important ‘Duty Holder’ for safety as outlined in FISA Guidance on Managing Health and Safety in Forestry (GMHSF).  The FWM is required to carry a wide depth of competency and responsibility; being the go-to person with respect to any decision making that may affect the health and safety of contractors, their employees and members of the public who may be affected by work taking place on a forestry site.  The FWM provides a link between the Landowner and those commissioned to carry out the work.  FISA will produce an outline for competency development to supporting what a ‘good FWM’ should be.  The role of the FWM is critical in developing a ‘safety-first’ culture in the delivery of forestry operations.

FISA Learning & Behaviour WG run and release the FISA industry incident statistics project.  The group make regular requests for safety messages and learning points - if you have safety points to share with your industry please get in touch.  This WG can help you in the write up of a Safety Alert.  The group support the FISA Strategy WG in the development of the next five-year strategy for FISA. This strategy will be shared with FISA members via our website, laying out our key priorities for the coming five-year period, supporting our decisions on allocation of resource and WG topics. 

Certainly, the last year’s pandemic has added an additional challenging layer for all. The subject of wellbeing as a crucial part of work is now becoming better understood. FISA is proud to have stepped up when needed to source support for those in need.  As a small industry, we do not have mainstream wellbeing support; but we can access support bodies available to help, we need to ensure that those who face difficult circumstances have somewhere to turn, please get in touch if you need to seek help.  FISA will continue to help callers putting them in touch with the relevant support network, any call will be treated in the utmost confidence.  We also share wellbeing points and contacts on our website and via our regular FISA updates. 

FISA Forest Haulage WG send you regular safety messages via our FISA updates, including reminders on safety check sheets from the Traffic Commissioner web updates. Strapping and load security remains a hot topic and the WG are currently monitoring Exte auto tensioning systems, currently on field trials in Scotland, results will be shared with you when complete.

The WG have collaborated with the Timber Transport Forum to produce clear strapping guidance ‘truck’ stickers and will continue to work closely on a range of issues.

Training is another important subject (whilst CV19 affected) that has been developed with a CPC +F Forest Haulage specific 7hr module, complete with a suite of videos now ready to be rolled out to both drivers and FWM’s as restrictions ease. As part of this work, an induction video that can be shared to new entrants across all Forest Haulage sectors – roundwood, fuel and plant deliveries has been created.

FISA Electricity & Utilities WG provide regular complex answers in response to industry submitted queries as a regular FISA update feature.  The WG provide updates to FISA 804 ensuring the guidance is kept fully up to date.  Most of the queries are around the understanding of working near the “red zone” in different situations.

In response to repeated incidents and queries, the WG is working towards a further guidance document regarding the use and management of goalposts and the part they play in the protection of the forest workforce from injury by contact with overhead lines.  

With the increasing presence of underground cables associated with in-forest renewables developments there is need to raise awareness of this hazard. Every cable strike near miss could so easily have been fatal. The group are also drafting working near rail safety guidance and will continue to offer answers on queries received.

FISA Landowner WG - in forestry the Landowner is the party in control of the land on which the forestry work takes place. This role includes agents who may be acting on behalf of a Landowner.  This WG will continue to focus on raising awareness of safety in forestry; helping the Landowners to better understand their responsibility for health and safety as laid out in FISA Guidance on Managing Health and Safety in Forestry (GMHSF).  Although the FWM has the key role in managing health and safety during forestry work, the Landowner also has an important part to play with responsibilities to meet.  The group will work in collaboration with other organisations to help Landowners discharge their duties under Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

FISA Worksite Management WG - FISA 803 Firefighting is now undergoing a refresh, very topical with the release last week of Wildfire Danger Assessment 22nd April - 26th April Very High – Extreme’.

And of course, we have FISA 806 Welfare, new guidance for an old requirement…. The guide was introduced asking for industry feedback, thanks go to those who have already offered comments, which have generated supporting bulletins giving clarification and helpful hints.  The feedback period closes in June this year; the WG will issue further clarification in response to newer queries received.  An important point often overlooked in this guidance is the need for handwashing as part of the welfare provision - handwashing helps to prevent diseases like Covid and Weils disease and helps clean minor cuts such as those from wire when fencing, preventing further infection. 

FISA Plant & Equipment WG a large and proactive group demonstrating how different sectors can feed-in across the WG alongside external parties like suppliers and manufacturers also offering advice, ensuring that safety guidance keeps apace with new kit.  This WG is collaborative working at its best!

Chainshot – do you know the risk and how to maintain your machine to help to prevent this?  This group have raised this topic and will continue to coax better understanding on chain shot.

FISA Safety Alert on Tree Shear and Grapple Saw V7 refresh released on 23.04.21. If you run this kit, you must read this alert! Soon for release the new FISA 608 Tree Shear and Grapple Saw Safety Guide.  Use of this equipment is rapidly growing; this equipment offers the potential in some situations to remove motor manual work in tree felling – something we are all keen to see in diseased ash.  It is vital that we ensure that those both planning the work and using this equipment know how to do this safely.  Next topics for this WG are refresh of existing machine guidance, including debogging and mulchers. 

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