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Landowners to join the Forestry Industry Safety Accord (FISA) in challenge to improve forest safety (FWN 29)

25 September 2017

In the five years up to March 2012, there was an average of 10.4 forestry fatalities per 100,000 workers. This is more than three times the fatality rate for the construction industry.

In 2012, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) called a safety summit, bringing together stakeholders from across the industry and continues to challenge the industry following the formation of FISA.  The message is clear, things needed to change.

Everyone involved in forestry must work together in a coordinated and managed way to reduce the number of serious and fatal accidents.  FISA membership has grown steadily to over 900 members.  For the next three years FISA through strong and committed leadership, will:

  • Provide the necessary strategic direction and impetus to raise health, safety and welfare standards throughout the industry
  • Provide clear and proactive leadership to change attitudes and behaviour at every level in the industry
  • Involve everybody working in the industry to ensure individual and collective responsibility for health and safety, avoiding unacceptable risks and challenging unsafe practices
  • Develop ways for the industry to share safety statistics, data and information
  • Maintain and improve safe working practices, through training and raising the competency of those working in the industry at every level
  • Recognising that improvements to the industry’s health and safety performance requires sustained commitment and action – being equitable and fair to all those involved

We have already had excellent support from a wide range of forestry sectors stakeholders who have signed the Accord and are giving it their full backing.  We want everyone from across the timber supply chain – including farmers and landowners – to join by signing the Accord.

The landowner has a key part to play in forest safety.

The landowner role includes the following key tasks, which you can use as a checklist as you prepare for felling work:

Coordination of the activities of the overall forest environment for health and safety.

The Landowner has the task of maintaining an overall responsibility of what is happening on their forested land and on land which provides access to forested areas.

The Landowner should plan forestry work and organise the work so that risks are avoided from the outset where possible.  The following issues should be considered, ideally, before a discussion of timber price is commenced in the event of a timber sale to a third party.

  • What else will be happening in the forest or on the farm at the time the operations are scheduled?
  • Can the work be timed to avoid public access peaks?
  • What effect does the timing have on the ground conditions that contractors will have to deal with, such as seasonal implications?
  • How will vehicles, plant and, or, timber be moved on and off the site, and how does that fit in with other vehicle movements in the forest or on the farm?
  • How will this work the health and safety of people working in or visiting the forest or on the farm?
  • Liaise with others for the forest operations (for example individuals or communities affected by timber transport) where necessary.

Gather information about hazards to, on and around forestry worksites, and communicate to the Forest Works Manager (FWM).

The FWM has to plan the work with any contractors on the site.  To do this properly, they will require current detailed and specific information from the Landowner, about hazards to, on and around the site that could give rise to health and safety risks.  This is probably best presented as an up-to-date and effectively detailed map.  Study the proposed site and the access to it and identify the location of hazards such as:

  • routes or areas of public access;
  •  overhead power lines;
  • underground utilities;
  • areas of steep or particularly hazardous terrain, such as mine workings, cliff edges and hazardous topography; and
  • areas of windblown or diseased trees.
  • boundaries with neighbours

The Landowner should also ensure that forest and access roads are fit for purpose with the FWM and haulage contractor.  The Road Haulage of Round Timber Code of Practice sets out road specifications and the roles of each party for forest roads and access.

A Landowner should only take on the role of FWM if they are able to demonstrate they are competent to do so.

Ensure that the work on a particular site does not affect the health and safety of other people.

This task relies on discussing and agreeing with the FWM, together, how to protect the health and safety of other people who may be affected by the work.  These may include members of the public, other workers in the forest or farm, such as your own employees, the employees of others (for example tenants) and other contractors.  This task is best carried out with a pre-commencement meeting and areas you will need to explore with the FWM include measures to control the risks on site affecting others, for example:

  • levels of training and supervision the FWM and their workers will require on the site;
  • restrictions on weekend or holiday working;
  • measures to control access to the site, for example:
  • providing information to the public at the entrances to the forest;
  • applying for temporary diversion or closure of public footpaths;
  • arranging footpath permissions, and Overhead Power Lines (OHPL) switch-offs;
  • erecting warning and prohibition signs or barriers;
  • use of banksmen when working near areas of public access; and
  • directional routes for timber movement, diversions and weight restrictions, as well as restrictions on-road use or diversions and way marking of routes;
  • agreeing who will check measures to ensure they are working?
  • agreeing what action to take if measures to protect members of the public are not working?

The landowner will also have additional responsibilities if they engage a company to both manage and carry out the forestry operation on their behalf. In this situation, the Landowner must ensure that the company contracted to manage the operation is suitably qualified, experienced and have sufficient resource to manage the operations.

Where the Landowner contracts out the duties of the FWM, the terms and conditions of the contract should be in writing.  This should also state the scope and limitations of the appointment.  The Landowner must ensure that the company undertakes its own monitoring and supervision.  The Landowner should also carry out periodic monitoring and auditing of the company’s work.FISA logo

FISA provides a one day course for Landowners, FWM’s and Contractors to better understand the roles and responsibilities of those involved in the timber supply chain in relation to safety and their Duty of Care.  For more information, please visit our website or get in touch at

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