Taking Your Safety Culture to the Next Level
In an industry as dangerous as forestry, fostering a strong safety culture isn’t just good for your company, it’s good for the entire industry. As workers move from jobsite to jobsite or company to company, their safety practices—whether robust or inconsistent—go with them. With a limited number of employees and contractors in each region, one company’s safety progress can have a significant impact on other companies in the area, increasing the likelihood that every employee and contractor will make it home safely at the end of the day.
Perhaps you’ve decided it’s time to reevaluate your company’s safety program and make some changes. How do you determine which areas of your program are working and which aren’t? The answer lies in something the timber industry has already mastered—data collection. Growing harvest-ready trees requires collecting the measurements and environmental data needed to make operational adjustments that will benefit the company for decades to come. In turn, by gathering and evaluating safety data, you can identify patterns of unsafe behavior and interrupt them before they lead to a serious injury or fatality.
In 2019, we at Rayonier decided it was time to up our safety game. Our internal safety program was growing, but our contractor program was at a standstill. We were ready to tear down the walls of our program and find a way to better serve our contractors, but, in order to succeed, we needed data. We launched a web-based near-miss program for both employees and contractors, but it didn’t get many submissions. As we dug into the reasons why, we discovered that in order to have an effective reporting system, we needed a platform that could be accessed from the woods without Wi-Fi or cell service. After meeting with several app creators, we chose a straightforward platform that allows us to own, control, and edit all of our own content. In 2020, we launched our employee safety app with several reporting forms already in use internally: near-misses, incidents, and unusual occurrences.
In 2021, we took the next step and rolled out the safety app to our contractors, offering access to the following reports and tools, available in both English and Spanish, directly from the field:
- The Contractor Health & Safety Incident Reporting Form
- The Contractor Near-Miss Reporting Form
- The Contractor Safety Meeting Reporting Form
- Recent Contractor Near-Miss Reports
- Safety Alerts
- Safety Newsletters
- Toolbox Talk Topics
Our contractor safety app is a free resource for reporting near-misses and safety incidents and for accessing safety alerts and safety meeting resources. This convenient tool can be used wherever our contractors work—even when they aren’t working on Rayonier property. It supports contractors as they build and enhance their own safety programs, encourages open lines of communication, and is an effective way for contractors to track safety meetings for meeting OSHA standards.
Initially, when we first started asking our contractors to report near-misses, no one was submitting reports because they were nervous about retaliation. In order to overcome this barrier, we needed to build trust. To do this, we began emphasizing our desire for employees and contractors to raise safety-related concerns at every opportunity, while reassuring them that we would not tolerate retaliation against anyone who reported suspected violations. Our philosophy is that if you see something, you should say something. Although employee near-miss reports include the name of the submitting employee, contractor near-miss reports are always filed anonymously, and the only information we track is the information included on the form. To date, about 40% of our silvicultural, engineering, and logging contractors use the app. As you can see in Figure 1, after two years, our near-miss reports are booming. Collecting this critical data gives us the ability to narrow in on areas of struggle and maintain processes we’re doing well.
Even though we’ve made significant progress since 2019, we’re just getting started. Now that the pandemic is wrapping up, our senior leaders and managers are eager to return to the woods where they can cultivate trust-based relationships with contractors that will lead to the adoption of safer practices for years to come. We are also working to incorporate industry standards, such as OSHA Logging Standards, into the app so that employees and contractors will have this important information readily available at every jobsite.
It’s time for a cultural shift in how our industry collaborates on safety. Safety programs shouldn’t be kept private—they should be shared so that we effect rapid and dramatic progress that advantages the industry as a whole. Safe workers benefit us all. Together, we can make our industry safer.
Learn More: Technical Release on Rayonier Safety App
Rayonier has launched a safety app that allows employees and contractors to access a variety of resources and submit important health and safety forms directly from the field, even when users don’t have access to Wi-Fi or cell service.