29 Nov 2013

Forest owners seek help rather than point-scoring

3:08 pm on 29 November 2013

Forest owners are asking critics of its health and safety to help them solve the industry's safety crisis rather than making political capital out of it.

Another forestry worker fatality on Friday, the ninth this year, coincides with fresh attacks from unions and politicians on the sector's poor safety record, and calls for Government intervention.

Forest Owners Association president Paul Nicholls says the industry agrees that the death and injury toll is unacceptable.

But he disputes Labour Minister Simon Bridges' view that the industry already has all the answers and it needs to get on with implementing them.

He says the industry has already done that with all the obvious solutions.

Now it needs to look more closely into the causes and that's the point of the health and safety review it's launching.

"For that review to be successful, we'd like all the people currently out there criticising the industry to work with us to make sure that we can uncover the reasons for the accidents, and what we can do better," Mr Nicholls says.

"We want to work with everyone, rather than in creating statements which - in many cases - are factually untrue."

The industry's already reviewed its safety code of practice, but Mr Nicholls says the health and safety review will be wider-ranging.

"It will look at ... not just the actual tasks carried out in the forest, but also the broader environment in which our workers are working: their contract conditions, hours of works, and how we can introduce future mechanisation into the industry to support getting people into (vehicle) cabs and off the ground.

Mr Nicholls expects the health and safety review to begin in February and report back by about June