Forestry worker killed

Last updated 09:55 17/01/2014

Marlborough Express

Police have named the man who was killed when a tree fell on him in the Wairau Valley yesterday morning.

He was William (Bill) Bryant of Renwick

The 53-year-old was leading a crew of four cutting down pine trees on a vineyard property when the accident happened.

Tasman district police communications manager Barbara Dunn said the man’s workmates and the landowner used forestry machinery to remove the log, however the man was killed instantly.

No other workers were hurt.

The fatality followed an accident earlier in the day in Hawera, in the eastern Bay of Plenty, where a forestry worker was struck by a falling log. The injured worker, aged in his late 30s, was flown to Tauranga Hospital with leg and shoulder injuries.

Both incidents have renewed calls for the forestry industry to lift its appalling safety record; 10 people lost their lives in forestry accidents in 2013.

Ona de Rooy, general manager health and safety operations of the country’s new health and safety agency, WorkSafe NZ, said that to have a death just 16 days into the new year showed how much the forestry sector needed to change its behaviour.

“The regulator cannot be solely responsible for making sure this industry is safe. We will use every power available to us to push this industry to safer operations, but until every forest owner, every contractor, their national associations, worker representatives and the workers themselves take personal responsibility for operating safely, the culture in this industry will not change and more families and communities will be grieving over a dead or injured forestry worker.”

WorkSafe NZ said it had sent forestry health and safety inspectors to investigate both incidents.

Labour Party labour issues spokesman Andrew Little said it was time the Government took seriously calls for a corporate manslaughter law.

“If business executives were being killed at work at the rate of almost one a month, the Government would have moved a long time ago,” Mr Little said.

“It’s impossible to believe that after 28 deaths in five years the industry doesn’t know what the problems and risks are, and how to prevent them. Any death in this industry must be regarded as preventable and therefore the responsibility of the industry.”

Labour Minister Simon Bridges said tougher penalties were being implemented, with a significant increase in maximum penalty levels.


Deaths in 2013

January 11: Eramiha Eruera Pairama, 19, is struck while felling a tree near Whakatane.

January 17: John Sanderson, 40, dies near Whangarei when a falling tree hits another, snapping a branch which falls on him, severing his leg.

February 18: Robert Thompson, 43, is hit by a hook after a rope snaps near Thames.

March 26: Robert Arapeta Epapara, 23, is killed after being struck by a tree while working with a forestry gang near Rotorua.

April 22: Adam Tony Olsson, 23, is killed when a rotten trunk snaps and falls on him near Waitara, in Taranaki.

May 6: Mark Rogan, 45, succumbs to an infection caused by a piece of wood that flew into his throat in the Otago region.

July 19: Charles Finlay, 45, is hit in the head by a log in Waikato’s Kinleith Forest.November 26: David Charles Beamsley, 63, dies in a tree-felling accident near Murupara.

November 29: Michael Langford, 28, is pinned between two trees near Nelson.

December 19: Lincoln Kidd, 20, is killed while felling trees near Levin.


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