Injury puts forestry safety in spotlight


Last updated 05:00 09/08/2013

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment is investigating a serious injury to a forestry worker in Southland.

The worker was injured while contracting for Winton-based Craigpine Timber last week.

Craigpine Timber forestry manager Brett Armour said the contractor came into contact with forestry machinery in the Castledown forestry area between Dipton and Mossburn on Friday.

He was taken to Southland Hospital by helicopter with cracked ribs and was expected to be discharged yesterday, he said.

He could not comment further on the incident because of the investigation, but said the company was co-operating with the ministry.

“The ministry was called straight away and a representative was on site that same afternoon.”

The company would also conduct its own investigation, he said.

Everyone was very conscious of the risks involved in forestry and safety was always being looked at, he said.

“Potentially it is a dangerous industry because of the nature of the machinery and the size of the trees and unfortunately it is the type of industry where if something does go wrong it can be quite bad,” he said.

“The industry as a whole has made improvements in safety during the last 10 years. But the recent deaths highlight there is still a lot of work to be done.”

A Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment spokesman confirmed the ministry was investigating an incident at the Castledown Forest but would not comment further on the case.

The forestry industry is on the verge of announcing an inquiry into safety in response to criticism it is not doing enough to stop workers dying or being hurt.

Forest Owners Association (FOA) and the Forestry Industry Contractors Association (Fica) had agreed to hold their own inquiry and expect to announce details within the next few weeks.

FOA president Bill McCallum said members of the FOA and Fica aimed to do better than the government goal of reducing workplace injuries and deaths by 25 per cent by 2020.

There had been 28 deaths since 2008, including six in the last year. About 330 workers were seriously hurt last year, making it one of the most dangerous industries to work in, although this was a big improvement on five years ago when double that number were injured on the job.


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