The death of a 23-year-old forestry worker who was crushed by
a falling tree has prompted urgent calls for a safety review
in the industry.
New Zealand Council of Trade Unions said the death, the 13th
in three years, showed the industry had a "serious health and
The fatality occurred just after 7.15am yesterday in a remote
forestry block south of Pongaroa on Route 52, south of
It was one of two forestry accidents yesterday. In the
second, a 49-year-old man received serious leg injuries after
being crushed by a tree in the Kaingaroa Forest, near
The dead man was named yesterday afternoon as Reece Joseph
Reid, from Wanganui.
Senior Sergeant Dylan Earle of Dannevirke Police said Mr Reid
had just started his shift with a forestry crew of seven
"The worker was cutting a tree which became caught up, before
clearing itself and continuing to fall, crushing the man
beneath it," Mr Earle said.
Mr Reid was working with another person who was about 100m
away in a loader.
The victim was "an experienced forestry worker," who had
begun working with the crew four months ago, Mr Earle said.
Emergency services, including St John ambulance and the
Pongaroa Volunteer Fire Brigade were called, but the man died
at the scene.
Investigators from Occupational Safety and Health are
conducting their own investigation.
Tararua police have referred the incident to the coroner.
CTU president Helen Kelly said the death showed the industry
needed a "rigorous review into its employment practices".
"We welcome the work the Government is doing in health and
safety including the Independent Taskforce Review but
something is seriously wrong in this particular industry and
a special investigation is required," she said.
Ms Kelly said the industry was controlled by a few big forest
owners who largely contracted out cutting work to small
employers that were forced to compete on price to win work.
She said this practice led to long working hours, low pay,
higher risks and extreme working conditions.
Glen Mackie, senior policy analyst of the Forestry Owners
Association, said he believed health and safety practices
were improving in the industry.
"We're not happy when any serious incident occurs. We have an
active health and safety programme. We are a high-risk
hazardous industry, which has to be recognised, but we are
improving year-on-year," he said.
"We have a goal of zero serious-harm incidents and we are
working towards that goal."
January 2010, Port Underwood, Marlborough, Forestry
January 2010, Forest Block Tokoroa, crushing injuries
February 2010, Paeroa, crushed by bulldozer;
September 2010, Whenuakite, crushing;
December 2010, Wharerata Forest, crushing;
February 2011, Marlborough, struck by tree branch;
August 2011, Dunedin, hit by tree;
February 2012, Boy aged 5, Motueka, killed by log;
March 2012, Atiamuri, hit by hauler rope;
April 2012, Wanganui, crushed by tree;
June 2012, Gisborne, killed by log;
June 2012, Opotiki, falling branch;
November 2012, Pongaora, crushed by falling tree.
- By Trevor Quinn of the Wairarapa Times-Age