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Review Panel holds consultation in Balclutha

Review Panel holds consultation in Balclutha

The Independent Forestry Safety Review Panel is holding a series of consultation meetings in Balclutha today.

They are meeting with stakeholders including workers, contractors, forest managers and owners along with others working in the forestry sector. Panel Chair, George Adams, said “the meetings provide a chance for people to tell the Panel the issues in the forestry sector that concern them. They are an important chance for their voice to be heard as part of the Review process. So, far we have had excellent engagement from all those attending the public meeting. The issues impacting the sector have been discussed in detail. The input we are receiving will be of benefit to the Panel and the Review”.

The Panel is looking to understand the factors leading to serious injuries and fatalities in the forestry sector.

Since 2008, 28 workers have been injured and two killed on the forest block in Southland. The Review is being undertaken because one fatality is one too many. The forest block needs to become a safe place to work. Panel Chair, George Adams commented that “all parts of the industry have to work together to ensure the forest is a safe place to work. It is about workers being able to go home at the end of a working day, every day”.

The need for the Review was highlighted by Panel member Hazel Armstrong who highlighted that there was a forecast growth of 30% in planation forest harvesting in future years. She commented that “if we don’t do something about the injuries and fatalities now, there is a real risk things will get worse.

This is a worrying prospective. Something must be done”.

Hazel noted the importance of the Panel engaging with forest workers. She said, “hearing the views of the workers, their families and communities is essential to the Review’s success. We need to know the underlying factors that led to the accidents - they are usually complex”.

It remains clear to the Panel that there are no silver bullets that will save lives in the forestry sector. Mr Adams commented again that “improving health and safety will be about many changes, for everyone: forest owners, forest managers, contractors and workers. It is vital that workers feel comfortable and safe in standing up and talking about safety issues”.

To support the public consultation phase of the Review it released a consultation document on Friday 6 June. The document is available on the Review’s website at www.ifsr.co.nz and submissions are due to the Panel by 12 noon, Friday 4 July 2014.

The Panel will also be travelling to Whangarei, Gisborne, Nelson, Christchurch and Rotorua.

ENDS

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