10 forestry deaths

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 forestry 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.

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