Health and safety of forestry personnel is ‘paramount’

“While the development of forestry in Ireland is our objective, the health and safety of everyone involved in the sector is of paramount importance.”

This was the keynote message from the Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Andrew Doyle, at the Forestry Safety Seminar.

The seminar was held by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) at the Teagasc office, Mellows Campus, Athenry, Co. Galway on Thursday, October 11.

Commenting on the seminar, Minister Doyle said: “I am very aware of the key role the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) plays in the provision of information and advice across all sectors, including fishing, construction, agriculture and forestry.

It is vital that we do all we can to prevent accidents in our workplace, which in this case is the forest and its environs.

Continuing, Doyle said: “This timely seminar serves as an opportunity for those involved in the felling and harvesting of trees to fully appreciate the range of challenges and hazards involved and to gain an insight and understanding of safe practices.”

He welcomed the HSA’s publication of 10 new forestry safety guidance leaflets on topics ranging from using petrol-driven chainsaws to mechanical harvesting.

Doyle highlighted that health and safety in forest management is one of the mandatory subjects to be covered by the Forestry Knowledge Transfer Groups (KTGs) which are currently being formed.

He outlined that people working in the forestry sector are exposed to several health and safety hazards, including: handling of heavy loads; working in a challenging environment; felling trees; using chainsaws; and lone working.

While outlining this, Minister Doyle concluded by urging all those working in the forestry sector to take the necessary precautions and to avail of information and advice provided by the HSA and forestry groups.