New initiatives to cut New Zealand's horrific forestry sector
accident rate have been announced, with the new code of
practice setting out guidelines for complying with health and
But unions have attacked the new measures as inadequate and
say officials have learned nothing from the Pike River Mine
disaster. The code also lacks any regulatory force as
employers are not legally required to comply, they say.
The forestry sector has the country's highest rate of fatal
work-related injuries and its ACC claims are almost six times
the rate for all sectors.
Government figures show at least 66 forest workers were
injured in the Wanganui-Manawatu region in the last five
Just last week, 23-year-old Wanganui man Reece Joseph Reid
was killed after being crushed by a falling tree near
Pongaroa, south of Dannevirke.
On the same day a 49-year-old worker had his legs crushed by
a tree in the Kaingaroa Forest, near Rotorua.
Local man Glenn Simon Giltrap also died in April this year
after being crushed by a tree while working in a forestry
block near Brunswick.
His widow, Tracey Giltrap, said she was pleased industry
safety practices had been reviewed.
"I know that when Glenn passed away it was because of his
"I don't think it was anything to do with safety or anything;
I think it was just his choice and how he felled that tree.
"It was like a freak accident."
Jason Ashworth, who works for ForestManagement in Wanganui,
said the new code looked fair and reasonable.
People within the industry were the main problem, he said.
"If I hire a crew, it's up to my company to make sure that I
hire these guys that are qualified or trained ... and they
don't take short cuts.
"The workers are responsible - they are the ones who are
going to bend the rules or take short cuts and everyone has a
Mr Ashworth said everyone in the sector - contractors,
managers, workers - had to step up.
CTU president Helen Kelly said the code was drafted with no
worker input and reflected the industry's complete disregard
"We are absolutely outraged by these standards and we think
it shows the Department of Labour has learnt nothing from the
Pike River disaster.
"By promulgating these standards in the manner that they're
written, they're basically now complicit in the dangerous
practices in the forestry industry."
In the last three years 13 forestry workers had died on the
job, Ms Kelly said.
Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment injury
figures show at least 871 forestry workers were hurt on the
job in the past five years. At least five workers have died
in accidents this year alone.