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Wind damaged trees on West Coast must be safely harvested

Wind damaged trees on the West Coast must be safely harvested

“If legislation is passed to allow wind damaged trees on the West Coast to be harvested it should be accompanied by stringent safety conditions to safeguard workers” said Independent Forestry Safety Review Chair, George Adams.

“Forestry has a high and unacceptable record of serious injuries and fatalities on the job. We know that harvesting wind damaged trees is particularly hazardous work”.

“With the possible legislation to allow harvesting, the government, the industry and workers have an opportunity to send a strong safety message about managing dangerous work environments”.

“The Independent Forestry Safety Review Panel proposes that the Department of Conservation and WorkSafe New Zealand establish a cross-industry group to develop agreed safe work standards and practices before any harvesting begins. This can be done quickly to allow timely harvesting while giving the safety of workers the priority it deserves”.

“Many of the trees to be harvested are large. They will be inaccessible by mechanised harvesters and will have to be harvested by workers with chainsaws and taken out by helicopter. This is highly dangerous work. Given the lack of recent experience of large-scale harvesting of native trees, the work needs to be carefully planned and carried out so the dangers are managed properly”.

“The loss of native trees is sad, but it has given us an opportunity to use this resource wisely and provide an example of how forestry sector stakeholders can work together to provide safer working environments and more safety conscious work practices”.

“The West Coast has already seen how a lack of attention to both these things can harm workers. We do not want any more tragedies in our forests”.

Ends

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