Forest worker dies in first week of safety agency

LIAM HYSLOP
Last updated 05:00 20/12/2013

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After coming into existence only this week, WorkSafe New Zealand has received a reminder of the task it faces in reining in the forestry industry.

Lincoln Kidd, 20, became the 10th forestry-related death of the year when killed felling trees near Levin yesterday.

WorkSafe acting chief executive Geoffrey Podger said it was concerning that in the first week of its operation there had already been a forestry-related death. "There's a problem in this industry and it won't be solved until everyone's on the same course with the regulator."

WorkSafe took over workplace health and safety operations from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) on Monday. Before that MBIE had assessed 162 of the 330 cable logging operations.

The results were cause for real concern, Mr Podger said.

"From 162 visits now done, we've had to take enforcement action 203 times, including shutting down 15 operations."

Council of Trade Unions (CTU) president Helen Kelly said the industry needed immediate interim regulation.

"How many more have to die before the Government starts taking this seriously enough to act and properly regulate to keep our forestry workers safe at work?

"The industry has failed to act and the Government has relied on its inadequate approved codes of practice for too long."

Forest Owners Association (FOA) health and safety committee chairman Sheldon Drummond said the industry was working with government agencies to improve safety conditions.

"The FOA have got a very extensive safety-improvement programme under way and the industry is working as closely as it can with ACC and MBIE to improve the safety of forestry," Mr Drummond said.

FOA members own or manage about two-thirds of the country's 1.79 million hectares of plantation forests. 

DEATHS THIS YEAR

January 11: Eramiha Eruera Pairama, 19, is struck while felling a tree near Whakatane.

January 17: John Sanderson, 40, dies near Whangarei when a falling tree hits another, snapping a branch which falls on him, severing his leg.

February 18: Robert Thompson, 43, is hit by a hook after a rope snaps near Thames.

March 26: Robert Arapeta Epapara, 23, is killed after being struck by a tree while working with a forestry gang near Rotorua.

April 22: Adam Tony Olsson, 23, is killed when a rotten trunk snaps and falls on him near Waitara, in Taranaki.

May 6: Mark Rogan, 45, succumbs to an infection caused by a piece of wood that flew into his throat in the Otago region.

July 19: Charles Finlay, 45, is hit in the head by a log in Waikato's Kinleith Forest.

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November 26: David Charles Beamsley, 63, dies in a tree-felling accident near Murupara.

November 29: Michael Langford, 28, is pinned between two trees near Nelson.

December 19: Lincoln Kidd, 20, is killed while felling trees near Levin.

- The Dominion Post

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