2 Mar 2015

Forestry safety summit in Rotorua

2:18 pm on 2 March 2015

Forestry representatives and safety specialists from here and overseas are in Rotorua this week for a forest safety summit.

The event is part of efforts to keep the momentum going after a significant reduction in forestry accidents in the past year, following the disastrous 2013 year, when 10 forestry workers died and about 170 were seriously injured.

The industry is now implementing recommendations from last year's forest safety review, including the formation of a new safety council.

Reynold Hert, the chief executive of British Columbia Forest Safety in Canada, is one of the keynote speakers at this week's summit.

Its success in reducing a horrendous accident rate has provided a guide for the industry here.

"It would have been in the late 1990s and early into the 2000s that our fatality rate was very high in the industry. We were having about 22 fatalities a year and similar to New Zealand the industry.

"The government, the public and the unions became very dissatisfied with that situation and decided to do something about it and again, similar to New Zealand, there was a task force that was set up to take a look at what was going on and to make a number of recommendations.

"One of those recommendations was that industry needed to take a lead role in addressing the issue and as a part of that the British Columbia Forest Safety Council was set up to help co-ordinate the efforts of industry as it started to tackle the issue."

He said, last year, forestry fatalities in British Columbia had been reduced to four, compared with 35 in the worst year in 2005.