Safety pleas after worker dies

KATHRYN KING
Last updated 12:00 20/12/2013

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The death of a Levin forestry worker, the 10th for the industry this year, has renewed calls for change in the sector.

Levin man Lincoln Kidd, 20, was killed when a tree fell on him at a forestry block owned by two Levin-based Ngati Raukawa families off State Highway 1, near Oturoa Rd, Waitarere, yesterday.

Emergency services were called to the site about 6.45am, but he died at the scene. WorkSafe NZ inspectors specialising in forestry travelled from Rotorua to inspect the site.

WorkSafe NZ's acting chief executive Geoffrey Podger said it was "concerning" that in its first week of operations, it was dealing with yet another death in the sector.

"There's a problem in this industry and it won't be solved until everyone's on the same course with the regulator," Mr Podger said.

WorkSafe's assessment of cable hauling operations, running since August, had given "real cause for concern" about the state of the industry, he said.

Of the 162 visits to sites carried out, it had taken enforcement action 203 times, including shutting down 15 operations.

The New Zealand Council of Trade Unions president Helen Kelly is demanding immediate interim regulation of the forestry industry, while Labour forestry spokesman Shane Jones says punitive powers should be increased and more resources poured into safety inspections. There were nine forestry safety inspectors in the country, and that number needed to be increased, he said.

Mr Kidd's aunt, Allenia Calder, said her nephew was an experienced woodcutter and didn't know what to make of the ongoing issues with forestry-related deaths.

"I don't know, perhaps [what's required is] more training, or on-site regulations, I don't know. But he's a responsible boy; he knew what he was doing."

Ms Calder said Mr Kidd was the youngest of three children, born and raised in Levin. He had a "lovely family" and his death had been a shocking blow. "What can I say? I don't know how his mum and dad are going to deal with this; I don't know how I will."

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- Manawatu Standard

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