1 Feb 2016

Drop in forestry workers deaths

5:57 am on 1 February 2016

Data on the forestry industry shows there has been significant drop in workplace deaths and injuries.

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The forestry industry was overhauled in 2014 after an investigation found forestry was the most dangerous industry to work in. Photo: 123rf

Worksafe New Zealand data shows in 2015 three forestry workers died on the job, compared with 10 in 2013.

There were also half the number of serious accidents last year at 79.

The industry was massively overhauled in 2014 after an investigation into its appalling accident record.

The investigation found forestry was the most dangerous industry to work in, with more than 1000 serious injuries and 32 deaths between 2008 and 2013.

Forest Industry Contractors chief executive John Stulen said with the help of new technology, forest managers and contractors have led positive safety changes.

"Our production has gone from 19 million cube in 2008 to over 30 million cubic metres, so the rate of serious harm is actually now a third of what it was in 2008.

"We've gone way ahead and our members have led the pro-active change to identifying risk more actively, getting a mind set in crews that safety is the most important thing.

"In 2013 we were infected with cowboys coming into the industry because prices and volumes were high," said Mr Stulen.

A well resourced safety council has been set up, he said.

"We've had a huge growth in steep slope harvesters. There's been $70 million invested in these new harvesters.

"They put a man in a cab and they put them on steep slopes where we couldn't fell before and those machines have taken a lot of the harm out and allowed us to produce more wood safely."