28 Nov 2013

Ministry tells forest industry to lift safety game

11:29 am on 28 November 2013

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment says the forestry industry needs to take more responsibility for its appalling safety record.

Forestry worker David Beamsley was killed in a plantation accident at Kaingaroa Forest this week. His was the eighth forestry death this year and more than 90 workers have been seriously injured.

The 63-year-old's death comes just weeks after the Chief Coroner ordered a series of inquiries to find out why the industry has the highest rate of workplace injuries and deaths.

Since July, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has been sending inspectors to every logging site in the country.

For the 150 operations visited, 182 enforcement notices have been issued and 14 businesses shut down because there was imminent danger of serious harm or death.

The ministry's health and safety operations general manager says it's time for the industry to step up. Ona De Rooy says the ministry will continue to inspect forestry operations and hold those who do not comply with safety standards to account.

Council of Trade Unions president Helen Kelly has been campaigning against the industry's poor safety record and is calling on the Government now to regulate forestry employment practices.

Labour Minister Simon Bridges has also criticised the forest industry's poor safety record.

The latest fatality occurred as forest industry representatives held a safety forum in Rotorua and looked at developments in new technology for steep slope wood harvesting, also aimed at reducing the risks for forestry workers.