Forestry death leads to fines for contractor
A Taupo-based forestry contracting company has been fined $67,500 following the death of one of its crew members in a tree felling accident near Pongaroa in northern Wairarapa in November last year.
The Judge reduced the amount to be paid to $34,000 based on the company’s financial circumstances.
Great Lake Harvesting Limited was also ordered to pay the 23 year old victim’s family $60,000 in emotional harm reparations when it was sentenced in the Palmerston North District Court today.
The Health and Safety group of the Ministry charged the company under the Health and Safety in Employment Act (Section 6) with failing to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of the employee as it failed to ensure he was not exposed to hazards arising from a tree felling operation.
The Court heard the victim, who had no training, felled a tree which then leaned into another resulting in it being “hung up”. As he began to cut the second tree down, the hung up tree freed itself and fell on him, killing him.
“This inexperienced worker – he’d only been felling trees for a week and a half – was not supervised properly by the company. Combined with his lack of training, his inexperience should have been a red flag to his employer,” Keith Stewart, Chief Inspector Investigations said.
“Employers have to ensure their workers are safe at all times, and when they’re dealing with inexperienced, untrained workers, there’s added incentive for them to do everything they need to do to ensure preventable accidents like this tragedy do not occur,” Mr Stewart said.