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More forestry workers being killed at work – Woodhouse needs to take action

On Monday forestry worker Te Oho Mauri Piripi (“Piri”) Bartlet was killed at work. He is the second member of his family to have been killed at work in the forestry industry in a year. Te Oho Mauri Bartlet is also the fifth person to have been killed in forestry this year. 2017 is already the deadliest year in forestry since the horror of 10 deaths in 2013.

CTU President Richard Wagstaff is worried that the industry is not doing all it can to keep forestry workers safe. “I have some questions for the Government and for Minister Woodhouse that need answers.”

“Increasing production pressures mean that forestry contractors are harvesting more dangerous terrain and this makes it even more important to have safe equipment and work practices. The ‘Wall of Wood’ will start to be harvested from 2018 and will massively increase these pressures for the next few years. Employers and the industry as a whole needs to be ready to work safely.”

“The CTU, on behalf of working people, and the families of those killed in forestry, are concerned that the Approved Code of Practice (ACOP) for safety and health in forest operations has never been fit for purpose.  The ACOP is confusing and fails to deal with significant issues like the role of worker fatigue. Michael Woodhouse Workplace Relations and Safety Minister needs to act and  ensure the ACOP is reviewed urgently.”

“WorkSafe also needs to step up their inspections and ensure that they are out there on the forestry sites.  They should also be considering the responsibilities of the Forest Managers and Forestry Owners when something goes wrong and prosecuting when appropriate.”

“Everyone should have confidence that they can return home to their loved ones at the end of their working day. The forestry industry and employers need to do more, much more, to keep those working for them safe at work,” Wagstaff said.