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Forestry death and injury

16 January 2014

WorkSafe New Zealand says news today of a death and a serious injury in the forest sector is deeply saddening.

WorkSafe NZ General Manager Health and Safety Operations Ona de Rooy said after delivering an appalling safety record in 2013, to have a death just 16 days into the new year demonstrates just how much this sector needs to change its behaviour.

“We have identified an alarming rate of safety non-compliance amongst cable logging operators – nearly half of the 162 we’ve visited weren’t operating in compliance with the industry code and we had to take 203 enforcement actions to force those operators to comply.  We had to shut 15 of them down they were so dangerous,” Ms de Rooy said.

“We are so concerned at this level of unsafe practice that we have sought meetings with individual forest owners to make very clear to them that they have significant responsibilities under the Health and Safety in Employment Act.

“We will want to see their safety plans for the contractor crews demonstrate active management of safety standards.  If they are deficient, we will be holding them to account.

“The issues that are becoming apparent lead us to conclude that there are deeply ingrained systemic issues in this industry,” Ms de Rooy said.

“The regulator cannot be solely responsible for making sure this industry is safe.  We will use every power available to us to push this industry to safer operations. But until every forest owner, every contractor, their national associations, worker representatives and the workers themselves take personal responsibility for operating safely, the culture in this industry will not change and more families and communities will be grieving over a dead or injured forestry worker.

WorkSafe NZ has expert forestry health and safety inspectors on their way to the fatality in the Wairau Valley and the serious injury near Whakatane.

Ends

 

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