To comply or not?

In October 17, 2017

The forestry industry in Australia employs over 7,000 workers and has one of the highest fatality rates of all industries. The physical demands of the job, the use of heavy machinery and unpredictable conditions defines it is a high-risk industry.

A snapshot of fatalities from 2003 to 2015:

43 forestry workers were killed.
All 43 fatalities were male workers.
19% of forestry workers deaths were caused by vehicle accidents.
58% of forestry workers died as a result of being hit by falling objects.

There are many hazards that make forestry work dangerous, the big ones include;
• hazardous manual tasks
• exposure to chemicals
• falling objects
• falls from height
• the operation of plant and equipment.

Aside from Occupational Health & Safety, compliance in general is unfortunately not a choice in any business. Understanding our role in compliance and staying ahead of federal regulations is challenging, but it’s undoubtedly preferable to the fines, dealing with a potential fatality and other costs associated with non-compliance.

Creating a culture of compliance in an organisation isn’t something that you can deal with down the track, or assume responsibility of parent companies. In the current business climate, every business, regardless of size, is held accountable for compliance, and regulators are examining compliance policies more closely than ever.

Main regulatory departments currently influencing business in the Australian forestry industry include; DELWP (VIC), Local Shires & Councils, FSC, PEFC, Fair Work Commission, ATO, State Revenue Office, Department of Agriculture & Water Resources plus many other state specific regulators.


Possibly one of the most important steps toward maintaining compliance is staying informed and keeping ahead of the ever-changing regulatory environment. Being ‘in the know’ and taking proactive steps to stay ahead of changes is the best way to avoid being caught unaware.
Below are some tips of staying one step ahead:

• Follow industry news via social media and online publications.

• Subscribe to bulletins and updates from the ATO and Fair Work Commission. Accountants should be informing their clients of any federal financial commitments subject to change however not all are proactive in this sense so it pays to ask ahead of time what is in-store for the next financial year.

• Consult with agents, advisors or work colleagues about the issues and regulations that affect your company and activities, and seek guidance on any updates that seem to apply.

• Attend conferences and industry events related to compliance.
In the end its better to be proactive than reactive. Monitoring and maintaining, is far cheaper than being audited then found negligent and being handed a hefty fine.

Bill Carmody – Trepoint

Nick Reynish
Author and Entrepreneur