Pan Pac Forest Products managing director Doug Ducker has been on the timber processing workface for more than 40 years and one thing he has always been conscious of is the key workplace ingredient of safety.

He was busy with meetings and management agendas this week but happily agreed to make time for a catch-up on the subject.

"There is always time to talk about the importance of safety," he said.

He has seen the continual evolution of both the processing side of the industry through the decades and the consequent directional changes and strategies for safety.

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Ducker has a simple but sincere philosophy on the issue.

"It is a matter of ensuring all are on board with the safety message.

"When people come to work they have to switch on the safety head — think safety first."

While there had been some changes to the way that message was delivered, and accordingly adopted, it came down to what he said were the absolute core principles.

"To ensure people stay safe — the assessment of risks and the elimination of risk — those core principals remain."

There are around 400 permanent staff based at the Whirinaki site as well as about 450 contracted to Pan Pac to assist in forestry, harvesting and transport.

So it is absolutely essential to keep the safety factor well up on the overall scale of the business.

As well as a continuing series of safety meetings and forums, involving all sectors of the business, there are five staff charged solely with carrying out full safety processes.

Accordingly, Pan Pac has a strong safety record.

"But there is always more you can do — you never finish your safety programme because the prime objective is always to make sure people have a safe workplace."

He has seen the increased focus emerge through the years.

It was always there, but the days of traditional pursuits of watches on safety has morphed into far higher levels of monitoring and continual safety inspections and programmes.

Like the latest study being carried out at Pan Pac. It is focused on the issue and effects of fatigue.

There is also a strong emphasis on encouraging risk analysis — that before starting the job the safety implications are well thought through.

"And write it all down."

Ducker said pursuing and maintaining the safety front, for any large industry, was not without its challenges.

He said whether it was a work site, on the road or even at home, it was never going to be possible to completely get rid of the "it won't happen to me" attitude with some people.

So getting the message across widely and constantly was an essential part of the whole daily deal.

"We continue to strive for it but we can always do better," he said, adding that was why it was an ongoing and high profile part of the whole employment equation.

"There is always more can do — you never finish your safety programme."