Share and Discuss

FIRST Forestry Together is all about getting workers in the forestry industry, the families and their friends to share their stories with each other, find common ground, and experience what it means to have a collective voice.

However we recognise that many employees may be unlikely to share their stories for fear of reprisal from the industry, being shunned by fellow workers or employers, and being unable to get a job.

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20 thoughts on “Share and Discuss

  1. Sean Mortensen was killed felling a tree in January 2010. There were serious safety decificencies on the site. No proscecution was taken. The coroner was told by MBIE that one year on, that the company and forest owner still had serious breaches in H&S and were given an improvment notice (a slap on the hand to improve rather than an infringment notice or proscecution). Last year the site was visited again and dangerous felling practice was occuring and a written warning was given. There seems to have been no visits since then. You have to ask why this company is allowed to continue operating and why this forest owner is not held accountable for this? Does anyone have any ideas about how we might address this?

    • The problem is the system of competitive contracting itself Helen – health and safety is a cost for contractors, whereas the chance of an injury is low so companies will take the risk to get contracts.

    • The MBIE should also be held accountable for not having a satisfactory outcome. Have they not learnt from the Pike River tragedy.

    • anonymous yes you are right that’s why we all have to do our bit & educate all the people we know about issues & documentaries past & up & coming & to join first union to help make a difference that is the action we need.

  2. Lets get it right, with privatisation, health & safety are the first things to diminish. Un-educated forest owners or realistically, royalty collectors that don’t give a f**k about fathers burying sons & nephews burying uncles & families being destroyed, profits before people is the name of their game.

  3. Have had a look at the above guideline draft…..On page 11, section 4, regulation 6. To what extent are the recorded changes for the hauler operator? Do they just want written down safe zone change from zone to zone at the time, or do they want the hauler operator to mark on the map at the time the colour changes in colour? The first option would be the better. Hauler operators have to record tree fellers, checking in every tank, as well as record every tree drive, we don’t want to overload their minds or their work zone with paperwork.
    Page 12, checks & audits, regulation 1….Daily checks by foreman that breakerouts are keeping to their safe zone positioning’s by visual eye only I think Is suffice. I think documentation should only come into it, when there’s an issue that needs to be discussed. Once again, the foreman has enough paperwork to do, he doesn’t need the extra load.
    Page 12, other considerations. Flashing lights in the cutover for breakerouts, is definitely over the top. But flags, placed in positions by head breakerouts, for the retreating safe zones, is a must. And must be done by all. Eye pads & daily drafts is also a waste of time. For it has no purpose. The breakerouts need to document this manually on the maps, at morning meetings. GPS tracking for breakerouts, great idea! But even better, how about GPS units for tree fellers too! Morning Tail Gate meetings, to communicate these issues, is also a must. The issues must be documented.
    Chris Laurie.

  4. One concern I do have, they show a danger zone, directly below skid. Is this because there is not a proper landing pad made for the logs coming in? And is the danger zone marked because of logs coming back down at breakerouts, out of the chute? If so, I would then strongly advise that the skid size is nowhere near regulation & a landing pad hasn’t been formed, in the design & layout of the skid. Most forest companies are very slack in this area because it costs more money for the forest owner to build skids & landing pads to regulation. I therefore see that there should not be any danger zone in this area, if the skids & landing pad are built properly.

  5. I had a visit from hancock management last Thursday letting me know I was on every forest managers profile. Because i done an interview with 3rd degree on forestry work as a tree feller in northland. stating my views on health & safety in the industry. the pressures from forest owners and lack of responsibilities 4 the 28 passed & 900 seriously injured in the last 4 & a half years. I have survived 17 years in northland felling pines & still felling. as well as 6 years clear felling native prior 2 this. I will put a date up as soon as they give it to me, for when the doco will be on tv. for what its worth I put my ass on the line. a 20 + year career (death wish) gee how hard is that looking at it that way . i hope you all watch it and encourage people you know to watch it too.

    • congratulations Chris for standing up and speaking out.You have put yourself out there and that took some guts. I look forward to watching the 3rd degree documentary and will encourage others to watch it.,

  6. With the recent death and two serious injuries this week it is time to put pressure on the Government to call for an inquiry into the forestry industry.
    So far this year the average death rate in forestry has been one death per month. My heart goes out to the family of the recent fatality and for our family it turns the clock back nearly 2 years, when we were informed our son had been killed in a forestry accident.
    We were at the time in shock, but feared they would blame him, which in fact they did,by the, Department of labor OSH inspector, however it was found that he had not breached any H&S regulations or recommendations. He was a highly skilled faller and had worked in the forestry for 12 years. there was no investigation done into what could have prevented the ‘accident’,. We have spoken with many older bushmen who worked in the industry years ago who have stated that fallers always had a watcher, another worker always in close proximity and looking out for hazards. Had this been in place for our son he may be alive today, but sadly we we continue to cope each day with our loss and grief. Hearing of ANOTHER fatality brings back that devastating feeling of losing a son, father, and brother all over again and will continue to do so every time there is another forestry fatality, which WILL continue unless there is a Government inquiry. Simon Bridges is confident the new code of practice’ and the H&S agency that is to be appointed.will “fix’ the problem fro forest accidents and deaths, however, the code is not legally binding and is only recommendations, some contractors will still blatantly ignore these”recommendations” and continue to put lives at risk.The overall H&S of NZ, how many other industries lose a worker at a rate of one per month.
    We are all aware the human factor has been lost when it comes to the rights of workers, we all have the right to go to work and come home at the end of the day, most of us also know what it is like to work under pressure, but when that pressure is killing workers something needs to be done. Support this if you are a worker.

  7. hi caroline, like ken I too have been tree felling for years. 24 years over a 27 year career. I couldn’t thank u and rog enough 4 getting this sad sad issue public. i have now buried 8 brothers in the last 17 years my mate johno was the last in November last year. you broke the silence / woke the nation up. you gave Helen the window, the opportunity to bring the rest of us together. at the memorial I had the opportunity to speak as a tree feller 4 the tree fellers …… at that time I new being the first logger to put my head on the block there would be repercussions, if not a career loss.,,,,,,,in the 4 months following was a shit load of pressure from supervisors trying too strike me out of their forests. they went too the extent of putting spies in the stand I was felling & then a multitude of dda tests……..at this time I knew they couldn’t close me down. I then done an interview with 3rd degree same as helen ,,,,I was at the stage now feeling quietly proud & not fearing the next mortgage payment or grocery bill to feed my family……..today myself & a number of independent trainers, tree fellers & MBIE members along with first union representative, sat down at the table together & they all listened to the tree fellers & independent trainers. weve got a start. we’re now going to meet every 6 weeks & this meetings didn’t include company directed or company trained supervisors. the issues of working hours was brought up, along with pressure, good & bad crew culture, good & bad company culture. we came together with open minds & we have a plan in place. taking footsteps for now but diplomatic & legal backing. everybody is doing their bit to make progress. id like to thank Helen Kelly for backing me & everybody else involved. & I thank my partner & kids for supporting me 100 percent.

    • Chris, I had a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye when I read this, especially about the progress that is happening for you, this is what is needed to happen.
      when you spoke at the memorial day we were very moved, it was as though Ken were talking, what you had to say about working in the industry was everything we had heard from him over the years, I think you and Ken would have got on well.
      Roger and I would like to thank you and your partner for what you have done, you have risked a 20 year career to speak out about the horrific working conditions and blatant disregard for safety of peoples lives in the bush.
      We will continue to do everything possible to put pressure on the Government to call for an inquiry into this industry.
      our son in law is still currently working in the bush he drives a machine and works long hours, 8 am to 10 pm or 4 am to 4 pm, sometimes 6 days per week, he is getting out of the industry, which has been a huge relief to us, he has to work out his notice but the day he walks out of the bush will be the day that we can all breathe a sigh of relief.
      keep up the great work you are doing Chris, I only wish there were more people like you, and your letter in the Gisborne Herald was great, i hope it will encourage others to speak out, there has been a noticeable silence from these guys who are actually doing the work, but that could be because some have a confidentiality clause in their contracts stating they are not allowed to discuss what happens on their work site, not even with family members, this I have seen.

  8. Hi Caroline, awesome to hear back from you & Rog. I too quite frequently have a lump in my throat & shed many tears hearing the stories & going over the reports of the men who have died. Also on the pure frustration that we are managed by a bunch of greedy idiots. I cant believe the hours that your son in law is doing. There needs to be regulation there. Up north here the long hard hours are not equivalent to those working down south. A typical man on the ground up here, fellers & breakerouts, will do roughly a 9 hour working day, Saturdays are optional. The machine operators do longer hours, probably 10-12 hours a day, which in comparison to the information I have from down south, is a little more acceptable. There also seems to be a higher death rate around the central & southern north island areas & the hours you’ve mentioned, I think are definitely a major contributing factor. Also in my mind, I think that the crew cultures down there must be very challenging as staff & other workers will sit back & willingly let this carry on & not stand up for their fellow work mates. You mentioned about the contracts, with disclosure to the facts of whats happening on site. This is Bullsh*t! That instantly rings alarm bells. These contractors are obviously breaking the law & are blatantly trying to hide it. Surely a copy of one of these contracts could prove negligence to covering up dangerous work practices in dangerous work places. How a court of law couldn’t see this as psychological domination & an obligated cover up. Its a fact that we have to feed our families, which is why so many aren’t & wont stand up. Is there a chance of getting a copy of one of those contracts? Keep up the good fight you guys. Its people like all of us that’ll make a difference. I would’ve loved to have met Ken. I would’ve loved to have gone hunting with him & also to sit down, share a beer & have a yarn. In future if we’re down your way, could we drop in & say gidday? And could I twist Rogers arm to take me & my son for a hunt one day. I only have dogs & hunt with a knife for pigs. Never shot a venison & always wanted to. Cheers, Chris & Renee.

  9. OSH SUCKS, we couldve had a potential death at our job the other day, the shackle broke at the top of our hauler & the block at the top fell down to where i was sharpening 5mins before.. at the same time the hauler got pulled fowards & the pole crunched/bent in (The hauler couldve tipped over & the driver couldv been killed)

    soooo… we rung OSH to tell them what had happend, they asked “was anyone injured or killed” we say “nope” so they said that “we didnt need to ring them since no harm was caused”… so we do all this health & saftey for nothing they only care when someone dies! not when a potential death can happen. they didnt want to know anything about it, so im saying if i died or the hauler driver died THEN they would kick up a storm about it. Our hauler got certidied about 2 weeks before we starting using it obviously this hauler certifier is going to be in deep shit. Our buisness has awsome health & saftey, it all came down to the certifier for now checking the shackles. usually the strop hooked up to the drag would blow first but nope these shackles were faulty..

  10. Howzit Karlos. I know how you feel bro, its B.S that someone else has to die before recognition from the government & public comes to light. like yourself im into prevention. what brand of shackles are these? need to get this info out there. unfortunately paperwork & box ticking is the way the system works until someone dies. this is toilet paper for the contractors & forest owners, so when the sh*t hits the fan, their asses are wiped. im also concerned about the area where youre sharpening up. it sounds to me like youre pretty close to the pole? and I feel if you are that being next to the hauler by the pole, you have a really good chance of being hurt. for your own safety I hope you shift your safe zone. its easy to be angry but the answer is not anger but communication. have you filled out an incident report? and have you talked to your foreman & crew about the near miss, where you were sharpening in your safe zone?

  11. yeha giday its me in response to your asking about felling machenes these are new to the system and you are right when the shit hits the fan it will hit big time dangaling a 30 to 50 ton machene over a 45 plus degrease face is ask ing 4 danger imagine a 30 plus ton machene snaping those ropes and impacting at 50 mile an hour in the bottom of the gully do the math 30 x 50 = deth …….they have loadeing weights on haulers for there ropes may be they could be a guide line 4 thease machenes tonnage to rope loading wish I could help …I understand the felling machene costs 1,2 million dollars & a bully set up with winches 800 thousand + you could profeshonly train 6 tree fellers to a very high standard for that price ….that’s pass the buck to the contractor they pay the owner collects at no expense …..suckers

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