Forestry worker may lose part of leg

By Imran Ali

A Northland forestry worker may lose a leg below his knee after a serious accident in the Far North.

The male worker, in his late 20s, was rescued by police in Broadwood, about 48km southeast of Kaitaia, at 2.30pm yesterday before being airlifted to the Whangarei Base Hospital in a Northland Electricity Rescue Trust helicopter.

Late yesterday, police handed over the investigation to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment as it was a work-related accident.

His condition improved from being life-threatening to serious upon arrival at the hospital.

A police spokesman said officers from the Far North co-ordinated the arrival of paramedics and a helicopter with an advanced paramedic on board to the rural area.

A fire engine from Kohukohu could not arrive on time as the appliance skidded off the road on Paponga Rd while trying to manoeuvre a long, windy road.

It was not clear who initially raised the alarm.

A union lately warned that Northland forestry workers were working up to 14-hour days and suffering dangerous levels of fatigue.

The Government has announced stronger penalties for workplace health and safety offences in an overhaul that's being welcomed by unions and business groups alike. A new Working Safer reform package would introduce stronger penalties and court powers for health and safety offences, but do not introduce a corporate manslaughter charge.

Workplace accidents in Northland sparked 192 serious harm notifications to the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment in 2012. Nationally 40 workers were killed on the job last year, including three across Northland.

Government figures show at least 84 forest workers have been injured in Northland since January 2008 up to the end of last year.

Two near-fatal forestry accidents have also occurred in Northland in the last quarter of 2012.

A 21-year-old worker was transferred to Auckland Hospital in October after being hit by a log while working in a pine forest near Awarua, south of Kaikohe.

Less than three weeks earlier, a log rolled on to a worker in a forestry block south of the Mangamuka Ranges.

- Northern Advocate

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