WorkSafe 'ups ante' after death in forest

The mother of a 20-year-old Levin forestry worker crushed to death by a pine tree is relieved serious charges have been laid in the case.

Lincoln Kidd died last year while working on the ground cutting limbs off a tree on a forestry block between Foxton and Levin owned by a Maori trust.

Yesterday WorkSafe NZ laid three charges alleging the company involved knew serious harm was likely to be caused. The charge carries a maximum fine of $500,000. An alternative charge against the company carries a $250,000 maximum fine.

Two individuals have also been charged, one with "acquiescing, assisting or directing the company in that failure". The charge carries a maximum penalty of two years' imprisonment and/or a fine of $500,000.

The other individual has been charged in relation to an alleged failure before Kidd's death, carrying a maximum fine of $250,000.

Foxton contractor Paul Burr confirmed last night that he was aware of the charges. He would not comment on whether they related to him as an individual or a company.

The charge of knowing serious harm was likely to be caused was a rare one, and no business had yet received the maximum penalties for such charges, WorkSafe said.

Lincoln's mother, Lesley Kidd, said she was relieved at the charges, and was adamant changes were needed in the forestry industry.

"Lincoln was working in the spot he was told to" when the 23m-high pine tree crushed him, she said. "He was not at fault. He did not know that tree was going to be felled.

"Everyone seems to be passing the buck. The Government should be ashamed of our record, should hang their heads in shame."

Council of Trade Unions president Helen Kelly welcomed the serious charges. "It has really upped the ante . . . WorkSafe has stepped up. We think it is completely appropriate for this case." Fairfax NZ

Manawatu Standard