30 Nov 2013

Forest owners criticised over worker deaths

12:11 pm on 30 November 2013

The Forest Owners Association is defending itself following government criticism it is not taking responsibility for deaths in the industry.

Michael Steven Langford was killed in a logging accident near Nelson on Friday, the second forestry worker to die in the last week and the ninth to be killed on the job this year. The 28-year-old died at a private forestry site at Wakefield after being pinned between two logs.

On Tuesday, 63-year-old forestry worker David Beamsley was killed in a plantation accident at Kaingaroa Forest.

Minister of Labour Simon Bridges says the Government is doing enough by vigorously enforcing a code of practice, but he says there is a strong level of non-compliance in the industry.

Mr Bridges said the solutions are already known and the industry needs to get on with implementing them.

Forest Owners Association president Paul Nicholls disputes the view that the industry has all the answers and says it will launch a review of the industry next year.

"For that review to be successful we'd like all the people that are currently out there criticising the industry to work with us to make sure that we can uncover the reasons for the accidents and what we can do better."

Mr Nicholls says the review beginning in February will look at hours of work and introducing safer technologies, but says the industry needs outside help to find solutions.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment said on Friday it had shut down 14 operations this year because they were dangerous, though no prosecutions were taken, and issued 182 enforcement notices.

Labour Party leader David Cunliffe said an investigation is needed into the high number of deaths and changes are needed to labour practices.