Man to pay $50,000 over Rotorua logging death

Last updated 17:22 13/08/2014

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A Rotorua logging company crew foreman and director has been fined $35,000 and ordered to pay $15,000 in reparation over the death of a worker killed by a falling tree.

Robert Ruri-Epapara was part of a Complete Logging Ltd logging crew at Waione Forest near Rotorua in March 2013 when he was hit by a tree cut down by Major Nelson.

Crew foreman Nelson was operating a tracked excavator with an attachment used for felling trees and as an anchor point for cables used to haul logs up a slope.

Nelson was trying to manoeuvre it onto a level position so it could be used as an anchor point, and decided to fell trees that were in his way.

He did not see Ruri-Epapara, who was working without radio communications on a steep slope in thick undergrowth.

Nelson contacted another worker with a radio to try to check Ruri-Epapara's location.

Understanding that the slope was clear, he cut down a tree which struck Ruri-Epapara and another tree which also toppled over.

Nelson stopped the machine and went to check the area. When he found Ruri-Epapara he began CPR, but when emergency services arrived they confirmed his injuries were fatal.

Nelson was convicted in the Rotorua District Court today of failing to take all practicable steps as an employee to ensure no action of his while at work caused harm to another person.

Ruri-Epapara's death was a tragedy that could have been avoided, WorkSafe New Zealand's chief investigator Keith Stewart said.

Ruri-Epapara had links to Petone and Wainuiomata and had played for the Wainuiomata Rugby League Club.

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