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Forestry industry put on notice after sixth death this year.

#1 User is offline   Brucey 

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Posted 19 July 2013 - 01:52 PM


Forestry industry put on notice after sixth death this year
By Matthew Backhouse @Mbackhouse
Updated 1:37 PM Friday Jul 19, 2013

The forestry industry has been put on notice after the sixth death of a worker this year, just three days after another accident left a worker with serious leg injuries.

A 45-year-old Tokoroa man was killed off Tram Rd in the Tahorakuri Forest, about 20km northeast of Taupo, about 5.20am today.

Police said the man died at the scene after being "hit by a large log''.

The death comes after a Wanganui forestry worker, thought to be in his 60s, suffered serious leg injuries while working in a remote block at Linton near Palmerston North on Tuesday.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's health and safety group is investigating the death.

Group general manager Ona de Rooy said the whole forestry industry had to step up its commitment to worker safety - and the ministry would take a strong stance against those who did not.

"The death this morning is the sixth this year - that is an awful toll and its effects spread through communities, companies, and loved ones.''

Ms de Rooy said the ministry was about to launch a proactive assessment of every logging operation in the sector, targeted at the two biggest causes of harm in the industry - felling trees, and moving felled trees to loading sites.

"We will be taking a strong enforcement line during these visits and companies, contractors and crews can expect enforcement action if they're not meeting their obligations under the Health and Safety in Employment Act.

"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.''

Ms de Rooy said the ministry had produced unambiguous guidelines on health and safety for the industry, and everyone had to commit to their implementation.

Council of Trade Unions president Helen Kelly said this morning's death was "heartbreaking''.

She said fatigue and a lack of adequate training were behind the forestry industry's safety record.

The union has renewed its calls for an inquiry into safety in the forestry sector - something Labour Minister Simon Bridges ruled out earlier this month, saying the Government's new health and safety group was likely to take a hard look at the sector.

Ms Kelly said there would more and more deaths until an inquiry took place.

"All of these deaths are now blood on his hands - he's denying that there's a problem.''

Ms Kelly said an inquiry in Canada five years ago had led to a "significant reduction'' in forestry deaths.

"They had a crisis as well, so they regulated hours and they regulated techniques - they professionalised lumberjacking.''

The Government introduced a new forestry sector safety code last December, but Rotorua National MP Todd McClay has said until the new code was adhered to, it was just a set of rules sitting in a bookcase.

Labour MP Darien Fenton has presented a petition to Parliament calling for an inquiry into forestry safety, with a select committee due to consider the petition next week.

Labour Minister Simon Bridges said he shared the concerns about too many forestry workers being seriously injured or killed but was firm in his view there is no need for an inquiry.

He said the revised code of practise in forestry would help improve workplace safety.

"We've just got make sure that the workers get it and understand it.''

He said the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment had a work plan around improving work safety in forestry.

"I have also set up Worksafe New Zealand, which is going to have a very strong focus on these high-hazard industries, such as forestry, but also construction, agriculture and fisheries.''

He reiterated there were major health and safety reforms on the way, when he responds to the independent health and safety taskforce.


#2 User is offline   hukildaspida 

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Posted 18 August 2014 - 05:37 PM

Forest safety battle 'not yet won'

Home › Business
Fuseworks Media Fuseworks Media
Monday, 18 August, 2014 - 15:25

Point scoring in the media will not make our forests safer places to work, says the Forest Owners Association.

"The unions are claiming credit for a sudden reduction in the fatality and serious accident rate and Worksafe NZ is slamming us for a lack of safety leadership. These comments are unbalanced and unhelpful," says association president Paul Nicholls.

"Political posturing and blaming others won’t save workers lives. To transform the industry’s safety culture, participants will need to acknowledge their past shortcomings and to share experiences and knowledge. They are less likely to be open to this if they are being publicly pilloried."

He says this year’s lower accident rate is great news, but points out that it’s the long-term trend that counts - accident rates fluctuate from year to year. He also claims the Forest Owners Association (FOA) has been associated with every major safety initiative in the industry in the last 20 years.

"In that time the long-term serious accident rate in the sector has halved, relative to the number of trees harvested. Also, the accident rate in forests managed by FOA members has fallen to 25 per cent of that in non-member forests.

"This is not to say we are perfect. We still have a long way to go before we achieve our goal of being a zero serious harm industry, but we are heading in the right direction. Much of what we are doing clearly works.

"Our members lead by example. Our safety resources are freely available on the web to all operators. But we don’t have the power to enforce good practice. That’s the job of the regulator."

Mr Nicholls says improved safety requires the commitment of the owner of the forest, the employer, the employee, ACC and MBIE/Worksafe.

"Until last year, ACC and MBIE/Worksafe were not pulling their weight. They have acknowledged this and have pledged to work with the industry on safety initiatives and to properly resource the safety inspectorate. We welcome that.

"Worksafe inspections - especially of operations where the risks are the greatest - need to be routine. Not just something that’s done in those years when there is a spike in the accident rate."

He says the trade union campaign and publicity about the industry-funded Independent Forest Safety Review (IFSR) have raised awareness of the need for safe work practices. But he argues that short-term campaigns do little to improve long-term safety outcomes.

"We have to make permanent changes to forest operations so that safety is still seen as a top priority when the publicity fades away. We are putting a lot of effort into a joint ACC/FOA injury prevention programme, with materials being rolled out over the next six months. Initiatives like these will combine with others to make permanent beneficial changes to our safety culture.

"We will also be paying close attention to the findings of the IFSR, which we expect to give us some further insights into what we can do better."

Mr Nicholls says the industry initiated the review with government support and sought to include the views of all people with an interest in the sector.

"The Combined Trade Unions
is one of those parties, but they represent only 4 per cent of the forest workforce," he says.

"Submissions to the independent review panel have now closed. Let’s now allow the panel to do its job. Meanwhile we strongly encourage forest owners and contractors to adopt the initiatives that we know will make their operations safer."

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