9 Jun 2014

Forest industry backs safety findings

3:36 pm on 9 June 2014

Forest owners say the independent panel investigating the industry's appalling accident record has identified one of the big obstacles to improving safety standards.

It has pinpointed a lack of consistency in training and observing codes of practice and safety standards.

The Forestry Safety Review panel released its first report last week in the form of a consultation document.

Forest Owners Association president Paul Nicholls said the panel is spot on with its comments.

"You know we have seen commercial forest harvesting operations undertaken where people have not been adequately trained and really that's just unacceptable now.

"It doesn't matter whether it's a small salvage operation or a large commercial operation, minimum training standards, minimum practices need to be put in place, so I think the panel are certainly on the right path there."

Another issue raised by the review panel is the lack of mandatory safety standards in the forest industry.

Mr Nicholls said forest owners would support the industry's safety code of practice having some regulatory teeth.

"We currently have the approved code of practice which isn't actually a legal document, although having said that, if there were any prosecutions and you were shown not to have followed the approved code of practice, you would have to give very good reasons as to why you haven't done that."

The safety review panel starts a series of public consultation meetings this week.