Forest worker admits breaching safety act

A Napier forestry worker has admitted a workplace health and safety charge as a result of a mishap in which a workmate escaped with minor injuries after being hit by a logging cable.

The charge of failing to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of a fellow worker was laid by the Department of Labour against Layton Hirae Phillip Te Ngahue, 22, following an incident in Mohaka Forest almost nine months ago.

The charge carries a maximum fine of $250,000.

According to a health and safety inspector's summary, worker Harry Alistair Verwey was struck in the face and knocked over by a log hauler winch cable just 15 minutes after starting work in the forest between Napier and Wairoa about 6am on November 3 last year.

Te Ngahue had rushed to help his workmate who was later taken to hospital. Defence counsel Phillip Ross said he understood the injuries were "superficial".

The summary said the mishap happened after the pair had attached the hauler cables, and it was Te Ngahue's job to advise a hauler operator, who was out of sight, when it was safe to begin dragging the log.

As Te Ngahue turned to walk away, he had called to Mr Verwey "You right?" and after being told "Yeah, Bro," had radioed the operator to give the all clear. The mishap happened moments later.

The prosecution said Te Ngahue breached the Health and Safety in Employment Act by not taking all steps required to ensure workers' safety. He was remanded on bail for sentencing on September 4.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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