26 Aug 2014

Worker died from 'rare infection'

7:22 pm on 26 August 2014

The family of a South Otago forestry worker say his death should not be counted as an industry accident.

The comment comes after an inquest for Mark Rogan, who died in May last year, five days after swallowing something after chainsawing in the Tokoiti forest near Milton.

The Milton man's death was counted as the fifth of 10 fatalities in the forest industry last year which have sparked a national safety crackdown.

However, the inquest in Dunedin was told that his death was from a rare bacterial infection, which started from a graze on Mr Rogan's tongue after swallowing something like a woodchip.

Mr Rogan had complained of swallowing something while cutting up tree waste with a chainsaw.

Two doctors who saw him said they had examined his throat but could not see anything wrong, and believed that he had the flu.

The pathologist who performed the post-mortem, Alexander Dempster, said Mr Rogan's infection would not have been picked up in a normal medical examination.

In his preliminary findings, Coroner David Crerar said Mr Rogan died by a very unusual series of events and the evidence showed that neither his workplace nor doctors were to blame.

"There is no evidence of any failure by LEJ Contracting to provide a safe workplace for Mark Rogan and the independent expert GP report stated that the doctors who treated Mark Rogan cannot be faulted for their decision-making."

Mr Rogan's family said they accept that, and his death should not count against the forestry industry.