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Forestry firm fined over death of new worker

14 February 2014

Forestry firm fined over death of new worker

Taranaki forestry company R&S Dreaver Shelter Trimmers Limited has been fined $$52,500 (reduced to $25,000 based on the company’s ability to pay) and ordered to pay $55,000 reparation over the death of a worker who had only been on the job for six days.

Adam Olsson died in April 2013, when a dead tree he was helping to bring down broke apart. After making chainsaw cuts into the tree Mr Olsson initially went to a safety zone outside the area where the tree could fall so that his colleague could use an excavator to complete the felling of the tree. However he subsequently moved back towards the tree, and was struck by falling debris which caused fatal head injuries.

R&S Dreaver Shelter Trimmers were convicted today in the New Plymouth District Court of one charge under the Health and Safety in Employment Act for failing to take all practicable steps to ensure Mr Olsson’s safety.

“Adam Olsson was fresh on the job. He had no formal forestry industry qualification and had never previously worked on a tree-felling operation. His employer had a legal duty to ensure he was properly supervised,” said WorkSafe New Zealand’s General Manager Health and Safety Operations Ona de Rooy.

“Mr Olsson was felling trees with a colleague who was operating a long track excavator with a grapple hook which meant under the best practice guidelines for tree-felling he was effectively in control of the operation – despite only having a matter of days experience on the job.

“He should never have been put in that position.

“The hazard identification process at the site was also inadequate. While some hazards were identified there was no record of how they were to be managed. Had this simple step been taken the risks associated with felling a dead tree could have been assessed and prepared for.

“This death was entirely preventable. If the company had followed industry guidelines and provided a new and inexperienced worker with proper supervision Mr Olsson might still be with us today,” said Ona de Rooy.

ENDS

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