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Sawilling / Sawmiller

Summary of occupation

Timber mill workers process raw logs into timber. They carry out a range of manual tasks in the mill and operate the various machinery used to process the timber. Raw logs are stripped of their bark and other rough material and cut to the required shape and size using a variety of mechanical saws. The cut timber is then seasoned to keep the wood from shrinking or warping.

Some timber may be seasoned by being left to dry in the sun and wind, however it is more commonly dried in specially designed kilns. Seasoned timber may be planed to give the wood a smooth finish or it may be shipped rough. The finished timber is examined to determine its grade and quality before it is packed and shipped to wholesalers.

ANZSCO description:

Performs routine tasks in a sawmill

Alternative names:

Lumber Mill Worker, Sawmill Hand, Sawmill Operator, Sawmill Worker, Timber Mill Worker,

Specialisations:

Dry Mill Worker (NZ), Tailer-out

Job Prospects:

Limited

Common Industrial Instrument (award)

MA0000071 Timber Industry Award

Knowledge, Skills and Attributes

A timber mill worker needs:

  • to be physically fit and able to lift heavy objects
  • good hand-eye coordination
  • a high level of safety awareness
  • the ability to maintain concentration and focus for long periods

Working Conditions

Most timber mills are where the majority of commercial forestry operations are based. Timber mills are generally large operations with a number of sections, including log yards, green mills (for unseasoned wood), dry mills, kilns, despatch yards and maintenance workshops. Many employers will rotate staff through the different sections on a regular basis. The work is physically demanding, requiring heavy lifting, however many of the processes are mechanised and specialist equipment and technology is available to assist with many tasks. Timber mills are often noisy and dusty environments, with many dangerous pieces of machinery in operation.

Safety is very important in these workplaces to minimise the risk of serious injury.

Qualified Salary Details

On average, sawmill or timber yard workers can expect to earn at least between $657 and $702 per week ($34159 and $36494 per year) depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience. As a sawmill worker develops their skills, their earning potential will generally increase.

Tools and Technologies

Timber mill workers may operate a number of specialist machines including band saws, frame- saws, circular saws, planers, chippers and kilns. Machinery is also used to lift and move logs around the mill, including conveyor belts, forklifts and cranes. Callipers and measuring tapes may be used to measure timber, both before and after processing, with chalk or crayons used to mark the timber with measurements and other grading information. Timber mill workers are required to wear safety equipment, which may include safety glasses, hearing protection, steel- capped boots, hard-hats and high visibility clothing. Clothing must also fit well, as loose clothing may get caught in machinery.

Education and Training/Entrance Requirements

To become a sawmill worker you usually need to complete a traineeship. The sawmill worker and sawmilling technician traineeships usually take 24 months to complete. The sawmill worker traineeship is available as a school-based traineeship.

Recognition of Prior Learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.