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Forestry death – a tragedy
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Forestry death – a tragedy

31 March 2016

The fourth forestry fatality this year is a tragedy for the families and the sector according to WorkSafe Chief Executive Gordon MacDonald.

“It is concerning to everyone in the sector including the regulator that there has been this rash of deaths in such a short period. WorkSafe is investigating the fatalities and will provide its conclusions to all parties as soon as they are complete,” Mr MacDonald says.

WorkSafe was notified this afternoon that a contract worker was fatally injured while felling a tree in the Pohukura Forest north of Napier. An investigation has been started.

“The sector had a terrible year in 2013 when 10 died, and in the two years following, performance improved following work by a combination of the sector itself, the then President of the CTU Helen Kelly and WorkSafe’s very directed forestry workplace assessment programme.

“We have not let up our pressure on the sector to drive improvements in its health and safety record,” he says.

“In 2015 we made nearly 2200 visits to forestry worksite to review their practices, provide advice where needed, and enforce the law if necessary. So far this year, we’ve already made 280 visits to sites on the same basis, and we will continue this process.

“Despite this news today, I believe this industry is moving in the right direction. It has taken control of its own destiny through the establishment of the Forest Industry Safety Council. I see a strongly collaborative commitment to making better health and safety a primary focus in boardrooms, in forest management companies, amongst contractors, on the forest floor.

“The sad news today shows clearly there is still work to do and WorkSafe will continue to be a vital driver of improved performance,” Mr MacDonald says.

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