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Sappi Forests introduced a new safety initiative, 'Stop and Think Before you Act', which is driven by a behaviour change campaign to improve safety performance and make Sappi ‘twice as safe’ by 2020.

According to Sappi, the initiative is based on a process of getting people engaged in forestry work to have a high level of awareness of potential risks and to stop and think about these risks before they act.

The Sappi team engaged with primary stakeholders to develop a new approach to communicating safety that transcends language and cultural barriers.

Each group was provided with a risk mitigation tool to guide them, based on the concept of 'Stop and Think Before you Act'.

"We developed a storytelling approach, which workers could engage with on an emotional level," says Elsabe Coetzee, Sappi regional communications manager.

The process was written into a visual story with key characters and images.

"Together with the workers, we developed main characters of the safety stories like ‘Clever Me’, who is the one who is aware of the hazards and always stops and thinks before he acts," she adds.

"We also have ‘Stupid Me’, who ignores the risks and acts without thinking. This is not necessarily a stupid person, but they are behaving that way. And, more importantly, they can become ‘Clever Me’ just by changing their attitude and behaviour towards safety," she says.

Sappi says it has seen more initiative being taken when considering situations and identifying risks and hazards on the whole.

A Contractor Survey was conducted in mid-2017, where 82% of all Sappi contractors participated.

All of them reportedly stated that they had seen evidence that Sappi’s employees were making an effort to improve communication throughout the business, and that Sappi’s approach to implementing the 'Stop and Think Before you Act' campaign is living up to its undertaking to improve communication with contractors.

"In my 14 years of operational management, I have never seen an initiative take traction with the contract owners, managers and their staff like 'Stop and Think Before you Act'. At all levels, there is enthusiasm for the simplicity of the message," says Coetzee.

"It is so rewarding to hear contractors talk about the operators and supervisors in their businesses identifying and mitigating risks in their operations. No shortcuts. Practising what is preached," adds Leander Jarvel, formerly GM of Forestry for KwaZulu-Natal.

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