10 forestry deaths

December 20th, 2013 at 9:38 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

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

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

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,” Podger said.

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, Podger said.

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

10 is an appallingly high number of deaths. While forestry by its nature is a dangerous activity, that’s just unacceptable.

Good to see WorkSafe now up and running, and that MBIE has been active in shutting down dangerous operations. But it goes without saying the death toll must reduce significantly, if not entirely. The vast majority of forestry workers and sites managed to operate safely, and those sites that don’t should face the full consequences of the law.

14 Responses to “10 forestry deaths”

  1. Komata (1,767 comments) says:

    ‘You can lead a horse to water, but you CANNOT make him drink’.

    Sadly, all the training in the world is useless if the individual concerned thinks he either knows better, has devised a ‘method’ which he believes is better, OR really believes ‘I’m all right Jack , I DO know what I’m doing; It won’t happen to me, so don’t worry about it’.

    The latter especially is akin to the old saying that ‘familiarity breeds contempt’ , and is nothing new.

    As in aviation, the most accidents occur to either ‘new’ pilots (freshly awarded their PPL) or ‘Old’ pilots with several thousand hours operational time. The ‘newbie’ dies because he doesn’t know any better, the ‘old hand ‘ dies because he ‘knows it all’.

    The timber industry is no different – it’s just more ‘public’ (at least at the moment).

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  2. Richard Hurst (1,226 comments) says:

    Operations and companies found not to comply – shut them down and purse prosecution.
    Individual employees that don’t comply with site and /or company safety policies and thereby endangering themselves and their co-workers- sack them- but that unfortunately is not always a straight forward procedure.

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  3. ross69 (3,651 comments) says:

    Simon Bridges and John Key don’t seemed terribly concerned. Bridges expects “fewer deaths”. In other words some deaths are OK. I guess John Key can’t do everything – doing pokie deals, handing over millions of dollars to Hollywood movie executives, and selling the family silver are clearly a higher priority.

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  4. Lance (3,817 comments) says:

    I think you will find a large number of serious incidents can be traced back to pressure to get the job done.

    These forestry contractors are all trying to undercut each other when bidding and then are under resourced to actually get the job done safely once they have the contract.

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  5. woodburner (40 comments) says:

    We really should be starting to ask whether raw log export is the best use for this product. I hear from a number of avenues that margins are pretty tight in the industry, meaning the guys are working massive hours for minimal pay- a recipe for disaster. Should we start thinking about other higher value uses for logs, which would ultimately give more room for better margins – hopefully reducing the pressures that are at the root of these deaths?

    As to what – I know that Scion’s woodscape project came up with quite a few possibilities which are far more beneficial to the sector and the economy as a whole

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  6. sHr0oMaN (39 comments) says:

    Where are the unions?
    Why is there no hue and cry from them?
    Surely protecting the lives of their members should be paramount?
    I’ve yet to see a union say (much less do) anything about forestry deaths

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  7. Gulag1917 (1,641 comments) says:

    Forestry statistics 2008-2013

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  8. Zapper (1,238 comments) says:

    Well done ross, you’ve even found a way to blame John Key for a tree falling on someone.

    I’m sure we’ll hear from the usual suspects about gender inequality, with yet another man dying on the job. Surely some type of statement has been made by a gender studies lecturer?

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  9. mandk (2,000 comments) says:


    typical bilious, snarling, sneering lefty comment

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  10. mandk (2,000 comments) says:

    @ sHr0oMan

    Much as I despise most of what she does and stands for, I think Helen Kelly has actually been quite active in lobbying for improved safety standards in the logging industry.

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  11. dime (12,985 comments) says:

    10? almost 1 a month?

    how many forestry workers are there?

    imagine if 10 MP’s were getting killed at work a year.. or teachers.. or nurses..

    i dont know enough about the issue but i hope some serious work is being done.

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  12. Gulag1917 (1,641 comments) says:

    There will be gungho attitudes, cowboys, production taking priority over health and safety and a whole lot of issues. Big increase in trees being cut down so inevitably accident rates go up. Always been a dangerous occupation

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  13. tvb (5,510 comments) says:

    Simon Bridges is at risk of losing the political argument on this. I think some sort of Ministerial inquiry is needed

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  14. Tauhei Notts (2,356 comments) says:

    Lance at 10.45
    Best comment. Spot on!

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