Forestry worker's death takes tally to 13 in 3 years

By Trevor Quinn

1 comment

The death of a 24-year-old forestry worker, crushed by a falling tree, has prompted urgent calls for a safety review in the industry.

The New Zealand Council of Trade Unions said the death, the 13th in three years, showed the industry had a "serious health and safety crisis".

The fatality occurred just after 7.15am yesterday in a remote forestry block near Pongaroa on Route 52, south of Dannevirke.

The dead man was named yesterday afternoon as Reece Joseph Reid, from Wanganui.

Senior Sergeant Dylan Earle of the Dannevirke Police said the victim had just started his shift with a forestry crew of seven. He was working with another person who was about 100 metres away in a loader.

Mr Reid was "an experienced forestry worker," who had begun working with the crew four months ago, he 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 were investigating.

The 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."

Ms Kelly said the industry was controlled by a few very big forest owners who largely contracted out cutting work to small employers, 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 the death was tragic but he believed health and safety practices were improving year-on-year in the industry. "We are a high risk hazardous industry, which has to be recognised, but we are improving year-on-year," he said.

Meanwhile at 11am yesterday a forestry worker was crushed by a falling tree in Kaingaroa forest.

The 49-year-old man received a serious leg injury and was treated at the scene before being flown to Rotorua hospital by Taupo's Greenlea rescue helicopter.

Forestry deaths

  • 20/01/2010, Male aged 32, Port Underwood, Marlborough, forestry accident;

  • 20/01/2010, Male aged 37, Forest Block Tokoroa, crushing injuries

  • 12/02/2010, Male aged 41, Paeroa, crushed by bulldozer;

  • 28/09/2010, Male aged 50, Whenuakite, crushing;

  • 13/12/2010, Male aged 19, Wharerata Forest, crushing;

  • 17/02/2011, Male aged 61, Marlborough, struck by tree branch;

  • 31/08/2011, Male aged 45, Dunedin, hit by tree;

  • 9/2/12, Boy aged 5, Motueka, killed by log;

  • 6.3.12, Male aged 38, Atiamuri, hit by hauler rope;

  • 11.4.12, Male aged 33, Wanganui, crushed by tree;

  • 26.6.12, Male aged 44, Gisborne, killed by log;

  • 26.6.12, Male aged 49, Opotiki, falling branch;

  • 27.11.12, Male aged 24, Pongaora, crushed by tree.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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