Keeping workers safe and healthy must be every business’ first priority according to WorkSafe New Zealand.
Two forestry workers have been killed in the past week and another seriously injured, and WorkSafe’s Forestry Lead Grant Duffy says these are tragedies for each family, workmates and their communities.
“The families’ and communities’ suffering must be a spur to the industry as a whole to actively assess the risks of their work that might kill or severely injure and manage them effectively.
“WorkSafe has visited every contracting crew in the country over the past three years, and is continuing that visit programme.
“We’ve provided extensive educative tools; we’re piloting an innovative programme working with Maori who are disproportionately represented in the statistics; and we’re a planning an increased presence in the Gisborne region because it’s such a substantial part of the current and future forestry activity,” Duffy explains.
“We’ve worked closely with all parts of the sector, and in particular with the Forest Industry Safety Council which is developing new tools and resources for the industry.
“But we can’t be on every hill every day and it is the forest owners and managers, crew bosses and the crews themselves who can make a difference today and every day.
“The daily toolbox talks are lifesavers and they’re the place to ensure everyone knows what they need to do their job safely.
“No worker should be heading into the forest without absolute clarity on what they’ll be dealing with that day.
“The events of the past week do not reflect national trends where fatalities are down and despite a slight increase last year, so are severe injuries over the past five years,” he says.
“Putting a life in jeopardy for the sake of one more felled tree is categorically unacceptable.
“Business and the sector must lead on this,” Duffy insists.