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Dr Tom Mulholland Testing Forstry Workers During Work Wellness Tour

Ambulance at the top of the cliff

A unique initiative has provided strong insight into forestry workers’ health and wellbeing.

Rayonier Matariki Forests has partnered with Dr Tom Mulholland, an Emergency Department Doctor and GP, to find out the state of its forestry workers’ health and improve it.

A five week ‘Work & Wellness’ tour of New Zealand saw Dr Mullholland and his team visit more than 150 forest contractors and their employees, to undertake health testing and introduce a new app. He visited crews in Bay of Plenty, Southland, Canterbury, Hawkes Bay and Northland, clocking up more than 5,000 kilometres in his Chevy ambulance in the process.

The app, which allows body/health statistics to be measured and collected, is called KYND Wellness. It records details on everything from cholesterol, blood pressure, Type 2 Diabetes risk and BMI, to mindfulness and work/life balance, to deliver an overall score which provides the person with a snapshot of their health. Information and a traffic light scoring system within the app assists the user to understand their results, including areas they may want to focus some attention.

Wayne Dempster, Health & Safety Manager for Rayonier Matariki Forests said the aim of the tour was to focus on the wellness of the company’s employees, its contractors and their crews to ensure a safer and healthier workplace for all.

“We know that our people’s work has the ability to affect their health. Conversely their health can affect their work. Examples include tiredness, anxiety and depression. Dr Tom and his team are reviewing the data collected on this initial tour and this will allow feedback to be given to crews and regions about particular issues or opportunities. Ultimately we are not only measuring but helping to improve health outcomes where they are needed.

“The tour has been hugely successful with people sharing their health stories and engaging with the process with a real desire to improve their own health.”

It was not just physical health that was the focus of the exercise. During a talk from Dr Mulholland audiences were asked what percentage of accidents they thought were caused by anger or frustration. Their response - across the country workers said between 80-100%!

“This was a game changer for me,” said Mr Dempster. “If we can contribute to our people’s mental health and happiness, which is part of being healthy, then we can get better safety outcomes for all. It’s all about getting home safely every day.”

Further workforce visits will take place later in the year.