Forest safety under scrutiny

Last updated 11:22 19/07/2013

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Strong action will be taken against any unsafe logging operations discovered in an upcoming review, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment says.

The comment follows the death this morning of a 45-year-old man who was struck by a log in the Kinleith Forest.

''The death...is the sixth this year - that is an awful toll and its effects spread through communities, companies, and loved ones," MBIE general manager health and safety operations Ona de Rooy said.

MBIE will soon begin a review of every logging contracting operation, targeting the two causes of the most harm in the industry - the actual felling of the trees and the movement of them to loading sites, she said.
"If we see evidence of fatigue or production pressure causing unsafe behaviour, inspectors will take action. Workers also need to take responsibility for their safety and follow the rules - the rules are there to prevent them from harm

Midland St John communications team leader Ptrece Gosney-Payne said the man killed at Kinleath suffered a ''logging injury''.

''I believe he was hit with a log,'' Gosney-Payne said.

''It was an unsuccessful resuscitation. It's a tragic way to start the morning.''

Police said the incident occurred about 5.30am.

Northern police communications Inspector Shawn Rutene said they are still trying to track down the person's next of kin.

Until then they would provide few details.

Rutene said it was a forestry incident but couldn't provide further details.

"[The workers] can travel from as far away as Tauranga, Rotorua, Whakatane - they all work together in these places so we need to be mindful of family members at this stage."In May, a petition in the name of Labour Party MP Darien Fenton and presented by Green MP Denise Roche was tabled in Parliament asking the government to conduct an inquiry into forestry safety.

The petition was on behalf of Caroline Callow, the mother of forestry worker, Ken Callow who died in Wharerata Forest in October 2011.

"Forestry is the most dangerous industry in New Zealand," Fenton said.

At the time, 28 workers had died since 2008 and nearly 900 had been seriously injured.

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- Waikato

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