2 Dec 2013

Forestry contractors urge all to take responsibility for safety

6:31 am on 2 December 2013

The Forest Industry Contractors Association is urging everyone in the sector, from the big foreign owners of New Zealand plantations to individual workers, to take responsibility for improving the industry's shocking safety record.

Two more forestry workers died last week, in Nelson and the central North Island.

There have been calls for the Government as well as forest owners and contractors to do more to reduce the high accident rate.

The forest industry is about to launch an extensive health and safety review.

But asociation chief executive John Stulen says everyone needs to take responsibility.

That was also the plea made to the forest safety forum in Rotorua last week by the father of one of those killed this year. He calls it Standing in the Gap.

"Standing in the Gap is to go where no one has been prepared to go before, and have the courage to intervene and say this is an unsafe condition and we have to stop work."

He says the current system is based on payment for tonnage.

"The only way we can be sure safety is being put first, is if we know that the owners of these assets and the people who manage the forests on contract, value safety as much as they value production and money."

He says the gap refers to the pressure people may feel to go faster and break rules, which can lead to accidents.

Mr Stulen has also welcomed Government inspections of logging sites, which have so far resulted in 14 operations being shut down.