Forestry worker killed in Marlborough

There are "deeply ingrained systemic issues" in the forestry industry, New Zealand's work safety regulator says, following the death of another forestry worker this morning.

The worker, who was pronounced dead at about 10.30am by ambulance staff, died after an accident in the Wairau Valley in Marlborough.

While WorkSafe NZ investigators headed out to investigate the accident, another worker was hurt in the Bay of Plenty.

A 40-year-old, who had been working at a site near Tawera, close to Whakatane, received serious injuries in an accident this morning. The worker was airlifted to hospital by rescue helicopter.

WorkSafe NZ general manager Ona de Rooy said today's incidents demonstrated the need for drastic change in the sector.

Last year, 10 forestry workers died on the job. The Council of Trade Unions, which has repeatedly criticised the Government for their hands-off approach to regulation of the industry, has renewed calls for the Government to participate in an independent review of the industry next month.

Ms de Rooy said the level of unsafe practice in the industry was of major concern to WorkSafe NZ.

"We have sought meetings with individual forest owners to make very clear to them that they have significant responsibilities under the Health and Safety in Employment [Act].

"The issues that are becoming apparent lead us to conclude that there are deeply ingrained systemic issues in this industry."

Council of Trade Unions Helen Kelly said today's death was another incident where a family lost one of their loved ones.

She called on the Government to take a more proactive approach.

"The Minister of Labour is still refusing to participate in the review of the industry which is kicking off in February, and we and the forestry owners have come to the party."

Figures showing at least 150 work places visited by WorkSafe NZ were not operating in compliance demonstrated the need for greater regulation, she said.

"They'll be a thousand worksites, are they going to visit every single one or are they going to regulate to make it safe," Ms Kelly said.

Earlier this week, logging company Complete Logging Limited was fined $60,000 and ordered to pay reparation of $75,000 in relation to the death of worker Robert Epapara's in Rotorua last March.

The sentence was handed out for the health and safety failings which led to Mr Epapara's death.

- Teuila Fuatai of APNZ

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