VicForests says safety first when it comes to remote workers

Remote Worker Safety

VicForests have utilised Netstar’s Remote/lone worker safety solution in their fleet of vehicles. Management says it is a “small investment” to safeguard their mobile workforce.

VicForests invested in the safety of their remote workforce. Installing the latest in online GPS tracking technology in their fleet of 73 vehicles.

The organisation chose Netstar’s GPS tracking system for their assets and remote worker safety. Which utilises the mobile phone network and the Iridium satellite network to ensure coverage in the most remote locations.

According to VicForests’ Director of Operations, Brad Winthrop, the organisation’s decision to install the Netstar solution was motivated by the satisfaction of knowing that all their employees would be arriving home safely at the end of the day.

The most important value is safety

“We have four core values that underpin everything we do, and one of the most important values is safety. We strive for zero harm,” Brad Winthrop explains. 

“Our forestry staff work in remote locations overseeing and implementing a range of forestry-related activities. From planning, pre-harvest assessments, road building, contractor harvest and haulage management and the regeneration of the harvested site. They are out there in the forest, often driving alone. Hence remote worker safety is critical.

“With our new online GPS, we always know exactly where they are. In addition, the system will send an immediate notification back to base if something goes wrong via SMS or email.

“Not only does the Netstar solution allow us to pinpoint the exact location of the vehicle that’s sent the alert, but it also shows us where the nearest vehicles are. So we can send someone to go and help out immediately.”

VicForests is a Victorian state-owned business responsible for the sustainable harvest, regeneration and commercial sale of timber from Victoria’s public forests.

The organisation plays a vital role in meeting the community demand for wood products by reducing the amount of hardwood imported from overseas.

It harvests approximately 5000 hectares of native forest in Victoria annually. Less than 0.1% of the state’s 7.8 million hectares of native forest. Supplying quality timber for furniture, flooring, building materials and paper.

Trees are regrown across all harvested areas to ensure forests are re-established and preserved for future generations.

Effective Communication When It Matters

“If one of our team is away from their vehicle doing an environmental assessment and something happens, they can just push the button on their key ring  to trigger an alert.”

Knowing that a worker will always be able to call for assistance from their vehicle in an emergency is one thing. But what happens when workers perform their duties away from the vehicle?

According to Mr Winthrop, it’s a common enough scenario. All VicForests remote workers carry a personal SOS device whenever they leave their vehicle. 

Unlike handheld trackers, which may not work if the satellites are not aligned. Netstar’s Hybrid GPS devices work every time, guaranteed. Remote pendants are designed to send a signal to the GPS tracking device in the vehicle. Which in turn creates an email or SMS alert back to base.

“An email will instantly be sent to the worker’s direct superior advising that he or she has had an issue,” he clarifies. “The supervisor can then go on to the system immediately and know exactly where their staff member is.”

Utilising The Latest Technology

Before switching to a GPS tracking system with remote worker safety solution, VicForests had a manual system in place – one that relied on the remote workers updating the notice board with their intended whereabouts before heading out into the field.

“Sometimes people forget to update the board, or they’d make an error,” Mr Winthrop recalls. “But GPS tracking lets us know where every vehicle is at any given time. So if we know an issue, we can find the person who gives us all more peace of mind.”

Netstar’s online GPS tracking solutions are fully customisable, but for VicForests, there was no need to request extensive alterations or enhancements.

“There was minimal customisation if any,” he says. “The way the system works is that you can ask Netstar for whatever reports you think you’ll need. Then, once you’ve had it running for a while, you can say we’d like to have this sort of information now, and they’ll make sure they can generate those reports for you. So it’s pretty straightforward, to be honest.”

Measurable Return On Investment

Netstar’s online GPS tracking solutions reduce the risk and costs of managing a mobile workforce.

That’s because, in addition to providing one of the most technologically-advanced communication systems on the market today, they offer a complete vehicle management system, including reports designed to reduce costs and improve productivity.

It’s a win/win situation, according to Mr Winthrop.

“As well as the safety aspect, there are a lot of productivity gains to be had,” he confirms. “The reports help us ensure our vehicles are serviced on time and highlight drivers who might be hard on vehicles.”

Heightened Duty Of Care for Remote Worker Safety

By using Netstar’s online GPS tracking system, VicForests are also meeting its obligations as an employer under the National Model Work Health and Safety Legislation, legislation that’s designed, in part, to safeguard remote and lone workers.

Employers are now required to ensure that they provide all workers who carry out remote or isolated work with tools that guarantee effective communication and the ability to call for rescue or medical assistance in the case of an accident or emergency.

It’s serious business, but an organisation’s desire to protect their workforce is driven less by the fear of incurring liability when something goes wrong and more by the satisfaction of knowing that their employees have arrived home safely.

Mr Winthrop agrees.

Netstar’s GPS tracking is a small investment

“At the end of the day, we want everyone to go home to their families. Netstar’s GPS tracking is a small investment, to be honest, to be able to know where everybody is and to be able to help them if something happens.”

Netstar Australia prides itself on being a reliable telematics provider with over 20 years of experience. We offer solutions for consumers and businesses in all industries Australia-wide. With two established Fleet Tracking & Management products, customers can enjoy peace of mind knowing they are getting accurate and reliable telematics data, helping to manage fleets and assets efficiently.

If you want more information, our friendly staff are always happy to answer any questions you may have. You can call us on 1300 950 709 or email us at