Independent Forestry Safety Review – Public Consultation

On Friday 4 July the Indpendent Forestry Safety Review Panel released their Public Consultation Document.

It is a very significant piece of work that provides a deep exploration of many of the issues in the New Zealand forestry sector. Here is some of the more significant media coverage: TV3, TVNZ and RadioNZ.

The document itself is a bit of a monster – it clocks in at 97 pages. There is also a much shorter (only 24 pages) summary. You can find both at the below links:

Independent Forestry Safety Review – Public Consultation Document

Independent Forestry Safety Review – Summary of the Public Consultation Document

The Panel is soon to begin a public consultation process, with meetings in the following locations (exact locations are yet to be finalised):

  • Balclutha on Thursday 12 June
  • Christchurch on Friday 13 June
  • Rotorua on Wednesday 18 June
  • Whangarei on Friday 20 June
  • Gisborne on Monday 23 June
  • Nelson on Wednesday 25 June

From around 5pm in each of the above locations there will be a meeting for workers only. We encourage as many workers as possible to make their way along to these meetings, to publicise them and to get their mates to come along.

FIRST Forestry Together will also be organising meetings for workers in areas where the Panel is unable to get to. We are currently thinking Kaitaia, Tokoroa, Murupara, Whakatane, Napier and somewhere in the Manawatu-Wellington region. We will provide more detail on exactly where and when these meetings will be as that information becomes available.


Forestry companies face legal action over deaths

The Council of Trade Unions is taking two forestry companies to court of the death of two workers.

The cases were among eight forestry deaths due to be heard at a coroner’s inquest in Rotorua next month.

But the inquest into four deaths will be adjourned – two are cases CTU is taking legal action over, and two are cases that Worksafe has taken, or is considering taking legal action over.

For full information on this issue, listen to Mary Ann Butler Finlay (widow of Charles Finlay), Helen Kelly (NZCTU President) and Ona de Rooy (Worksafe NZ) on Radio New Zealand’s Nine to Noon programme on 22 April.

See reports here (3News), here (Radio New Zealand) and here (NZ City).

Consultation on Forestry Review – can you help us?

Dear forestry workers, whanau and supporters

You will be aware that the forestry industry is holding and Independent Review into Safety in the Forestry Sector.

The Review Panel have met and agreed on a framework for doing its work and it is currently working on putting together a public consultation document. They have formed the view that there are three key features which “combine together within a workplace to determine the workplaces’ safety culture and collectively impact on the workplace health and safety outcomes for the workplace”. They have created three overlapping work streams:

  1. the workplace
  2. people in a workplace
  3. work organisation

There will be opportunities for contractors and workers in the industry to have a say.  This is an extremely important chance for those that can help with solutions and want a more sustainable model for the industry to have input into.

We want to help facilitate you and those you know in the industry to have a say.  We would like you to consider holding a gathering for those you know in the industry that might be interested in having input.

Our proposal is as follows:

  1. You organise a meeting of some sort for June (it can be 5 people at your home or a bigger meeting somewhere else – we don’t care!) If you want us to visit crew directly we could probably do that too.
  2. When the consultation document referred to below comes out – we use that at the meeting to gather peoples’ views but we can also discuss any other ideas people have that could help make this industry safer and improve working conditions.
  3. We provide a writer to the meeting to gather peoples ideas and we will then write it up into a submission (which we can send back to the group for sign off if they want).
  4. We or the group submit it.  If the group want to remain confidential – we submit it on behalf of those present, but if the group (or some of the group) want to  submit themselves they do this and hopefully also use it at one of the public consultation meetings below.

We are looking for a way to get maximum input including from workers or contractors that may not feel comfortable being identified but also from workers or contractors that want to have a voice on this and need some support.  This Review is the chance and if no one speaks up – nothing strong will come from it.
Please let us know if you are able to help by emailing Edward on or Helen on

CALL FOR NOMINATIONS: Forestry Industry Worker Representative Injury Prevention Programme Steering Committee

A joint programme to help keep forestry workers safe is looking for two experienced forestry workers to provide workers’ perspectives on health and safety. The group’s goal is to reduce NZ forestry’s accident rate.

The group features representatives from ACC, forest owners and contractors, forestry workers, the Council of Trade Unions, and WorkSafe NZ.

We need workers that have been around for long enough that they can tell us how the industry works and what does and doesn’t work on the job. We need one from the North Island and one from the South Island.

It will be funded by ACC, who will cover travel costs and pay up to $300 a day when attending meetings or conference calls.

You’ll need to attend regular meetings (mostly in Wellington), give input and feedback and talk to other workers to get their views. We need people with plenty of experience (especially in harvesting), have had a range of different jobs in the industry, take health and safety seriously and can represent workers and speak confidently on their behalf.

If you would like more information, would like to apply or want to nominate somebody, you can find out more information here.

Nominations close at 4pm, 28 February 2014.

Forestry chiefs in the gun

Last updated 08:23 31/01/2014

The forestry industy’s safety watchdog has taken fresh aim at forestry owners and contractors to try and curb the sector’s high death toll.

WorkSafe NZ, the Crown’s new workplace regulator says the code of practice for forestry operations, regarded as the “bible” of industry practice, will be reviewed and proposed changes would “clarify” the responsibilities of operators.

One industry source said the move was surprising as the code had only just had a major update last year.

WorkSafe chairman Gregor Coster said the current Code of Practice was more focused on the “worker on the hill”.

“The key is that forestry owners, managers and contractors must do more to protect the men and women on the bush line. That is why WorkSafe New Zealand is prepared to take this issue to the board room,” he said.

Public outcry has been increasing about the high death and injury rate in New Zealand’s booming forestry sector.

Ten forestry workers died last year and another was killed this month.

On Wednesday the industry confirmed an independent inquiry into forestry safety, beginning next month.

WorkSafe NZ will provide secretariat support to the inquiry and said 164 inspections of forestry operations had been carried out since August last year.

Fourteen operations were shut down and more than 200 enforcement actions were taken.

David Rhodes, chief executive of the Forest Owners Association, said his organisation welcomed the inquiry and had in fact been driving it.

Forest owners had to accept their share of responsibility but placing the problem solely on one party’s head would not work either.

“The guys that I deal with are aware they’ve got that responsibility but just at the moment, we haven’t got it right. There’s more that’s got to be done, so yeah we’ve got to do our bit but … it is a collective thing.”

Rhodes said hopefully people understood that the industry had a “mosaic of different set-ups,” including owners, leasees and contractors.

“Sometimes it’s an owner-manager, sometimes it’s just a manager. They can be resident, they can be absent. They can have huge forests with plenty of staff or they can be woodlot owners who are only harvesting once every 30 years.

“It’s quite difficult trying to come up with an approach that will cover everything.”

Rhodes agreed forestry was “definitely a dangerous operating environment if you don’t follow due practice” but not if good practice was followed.

“If you follow the rules, then you can be perfectly safe.”

More forestry prosecutions tipped

By Adam Bennett

5:30 AM Thursday Jan 30, 2014

More prosecutions of forestry operators for health and safety law breaches are likely, Labour Minister Simon Bridges said after the industry formally started its own safety review yesterday.

Mr Bridges has resisted Opposition and union calls for a government review of health and safety in New Zealand’s forests after 11 deaths in the past 13 months.

But he was pleased the Forest Owners, Forest Industry Contractors and Farm Forestry Associations had begun their review, led by a “strong, independent” panel.

“It shows the industry showing ownership of what is obviously a very significant problem.”

He hoped the panel would work as quickly as possible to give him recommendations he could take to the Cabinet, “and we can find more solutions to this issue”.

He believed the panel was willing to “tackle everything in this area, including possibly more regulation in different areas than perhaps they’ve been wanting to see in the past”.

Meanwhile the Government would continue with “a series of urgent actions” in response to the spate of deaths. That included an urgent review of the forestry industry’s code of practice that Mr Bridges said would focus on clarifying the obligations of forest owners and those in the boardroom.

Those obligations will be toughened up in legislation scheduled to be introduced within two months.

Nearly half of the 164 forestry operators visited since last August were failing to meet their health and safety obligations.

One operator had been prosecuted, two were facing prosecution and Mr Bridges expected more prosecutions to come as a result of 14 ongoing inquiries.

Labour’s forestry spokesman, Shane Jones, said the review was a step in the right direction.

“We need to be honest about how dangerous the forestry sector is but that’s not an excuse for sloppiness or tolerating the current casualty rate.”

But he said Mr Bridges had “outsourced this issue to the industry” and was neglecting his duty.

“One of the essential functions of the state is regulation and governing for public welfare, and that public welfare has to stretch through to industrial safety.”

John Stulen of the Forest Industry Contractors Association said his organisation suggested the review, “so we are pleased to see that a strong and completely independent team of experienced safety professionals has been engaged to carry out the work”.

“All workers in our industry and their families can be assured they can speak frankly and openly and expect to have their concerns heard.”
NZ’s deadly forests

• 11 forestry worker deaths in the past 13 months
• 1 forestry operator prosecuted for breaching safety rules
• 14 operations shut down because of imminent danger of serious injury or death

– NZ Herald