FISTCo Safety Forum Series 2021

The Forestry Industry Safety & Training Co-operative (FISTCo) program, open to all industry members, is facilitated by the Forestry Industries Federation of WA.

FISTCo’s most recent industry event, The Safety Form Series, held from the 21st-23rd of June, was a huge success. The program presents an excellent opportunity for the forestry industry to gather and discuss issues related to workplace health and safety, training, and development.

The 2021 theme for the series was “The Drastic Consequences of Inattention”.

With events taking place at various locations throughout Albany, Donnybrook, and Manjimup, event organisers found themselves facing significantly inclement weather. Albany was completely engulfed by storms throughout the setup, which meant a loss of power on the first day – a frightening concept when you have 150 attendees waiting for their hot coffee. Luckily, the fantastic event team were quick on their feet, and a generator was swiftly sourced.

In the end, very much in the spirit of the event, all scheduled programs were able to go ahead safely.

Using Innovative Technology to Improve Workplace & Road Safety

Connect Source Business Development Manager, John Elston was invited to present three sessions throughout the program, all aimed at forestry drivers. In total, over 350 drivers attended John’s presentations.

Throughout the series, the goal for the program was to shine a spotlight on issues within the industry that comprise the safety of the workforce and then present innovative technologies that are working to overcome these safety concerns.

Therefore, preceding John’s presentation, we heard from fellow presenter Rollo Craib. Rollo uses a wheelchair after being hit by a distracted driver while riding his motorcycle. In the accident, Rollo lost his leg and sustained significant spinal damage. He now shares his knowledge of innovative workplace safety systems and his personal journey after the life-altering incident.

Following Rollo’s presentation, John’s session focused specifically on informing and educating drivers, rather than business owners on the benefits of the Guardian by Seeing Machines technology, as it is the drivers who are the key intended beneficiary of the technology.

The primary aim was to encourage drivers not to be frightened of the technology and instead see it as their “best friend in the cab.”

At the beginning of each session, the drivers were asked what was the most important thing in their lives.  The first response every time was “family”.

“The Guardian technology isn’t used as a way to police the drivers or act as surveillance,” explains John.  “The technology is purely monitoring for fatigue and distraction events only. It’s like having a co-driver in your cab, helping you stay alert and safe on the roads, and ultimately get home safely to your family.”

John welcomed questions from the drivers and encouraged a lively discussion.  Some drivers raised concerns that the alert generated by the Guardian device would surprise them enough to alter their direction on the road, perhaps causing a jerk on the steering wheel.  In reality, in the event of an alert, the driver is already at risk of a serious event. Therefore, the alerts are potentially lifesaving.

If drivers are concerned that their device is creating more alerts than they feel it should, John encouraged them to reach out to their supervisor, who if necessary, can contact the Guardian support team for advice.

One driver raised a query about the number of alerts his device was generating.  He reviewed the footage with John, seeing that each alert was linked to an event which triggered the device for a legitimate reason.

Those alerts included the driver’s eyes wandering off the road for extended periods of time or the eyes closing due to fatigue, yawning, or the device simply not being able to monitor the eyes.

The alerts give the drivers real-time feedback to start changing and improving their driving habits. If the driver is out of cellular range, the alerts are still delivered to the driver as they occur. Once the vehicle is back in range, any fatigue-related incidents are sent through to those who need it.

A presentation by members of the local police forces followed John’s session. Within their presentation, the police discussed the extended impacts of traffic accidents and deaths. They pointed out that accidents do not only affect the immediate family, but also the wider community and first responders. It was a reminder of the broader implications of dangerous driving and the importance of doing everything possible to improve road safety.

Lastly, a presentation was made by Alan Jones representing SoberEye. This is an App-based technology that determines whether a person is fit for work or not, by examining the reflex reaction of the eyes when subjected to a flash of light. The device cannot differentiate between Fatigue or impairment through Drugs or Alcohol, but rather determines whether an employee is fit for work or not.

If you would like a demonstration of the technology or more information on Guardian by Seeing Machines, please click here.