12 Jun 2014

Contractors slam forestry safety report

1:52 pm on 12 June 2014

The group representing contractors in the forestry industry has launched a stinging attack on the work of an independent panel set up to review the sector's appalling safety record.

The Independent Forestry Safety Review panel released a report this month that highlighted what it said were safety problems across the forestry industry - including a lack of mandatory standards, a supply chain that doesn't value safety, and an industry that doesn't value training.

The Forest Industry Contractors Association has slammed a recent safety report.

The Forest Industry Contractors Association has slammed a recent safety report. Photo: PHOTO NZ

But the Forest Industry Contractors Association said the report lacks credibility and that the panel has been unduly influenced by unions trying to represent more forestry workers.

Spokesperson John Stulen has slammed the panel's work and said it lacks scientific credibility.

"We want to make it clear that its the workers who work in individual crews who need to have their voices heard much more now than what the union's been going on about for 10 deaths.

"What's far more important in health and safety science is that you look at 10,000 near misses and the review panel has missed that opportunity before they put out this document."

Mr Stulen said the big problem is Government safety inspector WorkSafe NZ is under-resourced and has no way of catching the industry's fly-by-night cowboys.

Chair of the Independent Forest Safety Review panel George Adams said he was gobsmacked by the criticisms considering the contractors association was heavily involved in its report. And that the problems the report addresses were identified by the industry.

"It's fair to say that clearly fatalities make the headlines, but it's incorrect to say we're just looking at the fatalities - we're actually looking at not just what's happened but the key is why it's happened.

And you've got to take a broad sector approach to understand the fundamental reasons why things happen. I'm comfortable that we're actually doing that," Mr Adams said.

"I think part of the issue is John's [Stuhlen] been around a long time and we're trying to teach an old dog new tricks, and I'm not sure he's the dog who wants to actually learn too many tricks, but hey it is what it is."