19 July 2013
Forest death not just a number
The death of another forest worker near Tokoroa this morning is a family tragedy that will impact for years to come, says Helen Kelly, CTU President.
“This morning’s forestry death is the sixth death this year which includes the death of Eramyha Eruera Pairama who died in Whakatane on 7 January, followed by John Sanderson of Northland on 17 January then Robert Epapara in Rotorua on 26 March then Adam Olsson in New Plymouth on 22 April and Shane Reardon on 20 May in Tolaga Bay. This number already matches the total number of people killed in forestry for the whole year last year and is accompanied by 83 seriously harmed workers including one just yesterday in Whanganui.”
“At the end of last year the MBIE launched with great fanfare, new regulations for this industry and spent a great deal of money promoting them at safety breakfasts while these men were killed and injured around them,” Helen Kelly said.
“We have told them these regulations won’t work – they misdiagnose the problem, and were written by the forest owners who are self-interested and have shown they are unable to make this work safe. It is time the workers in this industry were listened to. The NZ record is dismal on an international scale and our standards are inferior by a country mile. The two must go hand in hand.”
“The families of people who have been killed in forestry have sought agreement for an inquiry from the Minister of Labour. He may feel he has put a stake in the ground and can’t now back off, but no one will care if he does – he needs to show leadership and realise that the industry has major structural safety issues and these must be identified and addressed,” says Helen Kelly.