Skipps Logging prioritises workplace health and wellness amongst staff

Logging crews operate in a high-risk environment, and a strong focus on health and safety is paramount, but Waikato-based Skipps Logging has taken that to a new level by introducing staff well-being into its team culture.

Skipps Logging was founded by Tom and Mandie Skipps in 2007 who have grown the business to a team of 20 across two-cable harvesting logging crews and an array of mechanised harvesting machines. The couple have a passion for health, safety and well-being and have made that a focus of the Skipps Logging culture.

“Our mission is for everyone to come home safely each day, and the crews have introduced four operating values into the business to make sure that happens: Safety 1st, safety leads the business from top to bottom; Standing In The Gap, which is about working as a team and putting others’ needs ahead of our own; Positive Attitude, no stinking thinking, just have to get on and do it; Speaking Up which is having the courage to tell another bushman, who might be a lot more senior, that they’re not doing something right, or it’s speaking up to say you didn’t get much sleep and not up to falling trees today.”

“We have a toolbox meeting every morning, and the foreman will always ask, Is everyone ok?” Mandie says the well-being side of the team culture is based on the idea that if the mind is good, everything else will be good.

“Ten years ago, we launched the Biggest Bush Loser, which was all about looking after our crews, and one of the guys lost 19 kilograms. Off the back of that, we started a Daily Kick Start at the end of the toolbox meeting. It’s a two-minute exercise session where the guys run a hundred metres, do some star jumps, run a hundred metres back and do some press-ups and stretches.”

“They get puffed and a little bit fitter, but the idea is to get the blood pumping around the brain and be more alert and ready to start the day out in a high-risk environment. The crews have embraced this initiative because it’s such a short thing and it’s fun. It’s another good way of creating that positive environment and a bit of bonding.”

Skipps Logging has a team of 20 across two cable harvesting logging crews and an array of mechanised harvesting machines.

“The guys appreciate the emphasis that we put on health, safety and well-being.”

Once a month a health & safety meeting is held with the team. Because of Mandie’s passion for health & fitness, she usually brings her boxing gloves, and at the end of the meeting, there is a little box before going back to work. “Again, that’s about getting the brain switched back on and being more alert for good decision-making.”

Over the past couple of years, Mandie has performed quarterly blood pressure checks on the crew and this year commenced measuring their waist circumference and blood glucose testing as a way of detecting potential health issues. “As people move into machines, the jobs are more sedentary, and it’s much easier to put on a lot of weight.”

“Men over 100 centimetres around the waist are at high risk of strokes, Type2 diabetes and heart disease. A blood-glucose meter is another way to support the prevention of Type2 diabetes. Men typically never go to the doctor unless they’re really sick so by doing this and detecting a trend forming with an individual, we can steer them to their GP.”

“The guys appreciate the emphasis that we put on health, safety and well-being. I’m really proud of how far we’ve come and how every one of them has embraced that health and safety is also about well-being.”

Skipps Logging team includes a wide range of experience from young apprentices through to more seasoned hands. “We’re all about trying to train our people in as many roles as possible, because the more versatile they are, the better it is for the business, and happier skilled people are less likely to get bored because they can perform a number of roles. The attraction for a young bushman used to be getting onto a chainsaw falling trees. Now, they want to get in the machine and fall trees.”

Mandie makes the point that the industry has a massive shortage of skilled workers. “I think many people don’t realise how rewarding the industry is and how far you can progress if you are passionate, hardworking and trained. If you love the outdoors and don’t mind getting up early it’s a pretty special place to work.”

© Waterford Press Ltd 2024 – Independent Print Media New Zealand

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