28 Nov 2013

Government steps back from more forestry safety regulation

2:41 pm on 28 November 2013

The Government has condemned the forest industry's poor safety record after the latest fatality in the industry.

But it isn't picking up on calls to impose more controls on forestry employment practices.

A 63 year-old worker was killed in a plantation accident at Kaingaroa this week - the eight forestry death this year.

More than 90 workers have also been seriously injured.

Labour Minister Simon Bridges says the number of forestry fatalities is too high and the industry needs to get its safety house in order.

But the Combined Trade Unions president, Helen Kelly, says the Government needs to step in as well, and immediately, by regulating forestry employment practices.

Ms Kelly says the Government could regulate over hours of work, wet weather, fatigue management and pay and conditions.

The Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment says as the regulator, it's playing its part by inspecting every cable logging contract operation in the country - all 300 of them.

It's halfway through that process and health and safety operations general manager Ona De Rooy, says the results are not good.

She says from 150 visits to operators, 182 enforcement notices have been issued and of even more concern she says is that in 14 of those the safety problems were so significant that the inspector decided there was an imminent danger of serious harm or death and used a prohibition notice to shut down the operation.

The latest fatality coincided with a forestry safety forum in Rotorua this week, which heard from Canadian experts who have been dealing with the same problems in British Columbia.

Forest Industry Contractors Association chief executive John Stulen says the industry is using the forum as a lead in to the safety review it's planning.