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Independent Forestry Safety Review Panel begins engagement

Independent Forestry Safety Review Panel begins engagement

After a number of early planning and engagement meetings the Independent Forestry Safety Review Panel visited a number of forest managers and operational harvesting crews in the Rotorua region last week. The visit allowed the Panel to see for themselves the type of work performed in the forestry sector and to meet some of the workers.

Following the forestry visit, an initial high level meeting was held on 10 March with a number of key stakeholders to the forestry sector. They included representatives from government, various parts of the industry and unions, along with others including a former worker who had recently lost a family member in the forest. The objectives of the 10 March meeting were to:

- introduce the Review and the Panel to the forestry sector

- begin a discussion on scoping the issues that result in serious harm and fatalities in the forest

- identify a way forward for the Review

- identify other stakeholders and how to work with them.

A range of issues were discussed across four broad lines of inquiry:

1. hazards in the forest as a workplace

2. people working in the forest

3. the organisation of the forestry sector

4. the role of the regulator

Panel Chair, George Adams, asked people to focus on how the issues in the forestry sector related to serious harm and fatalities. He noted that “WorkSafe New Zealand statistics showed that since 2008 there have been 28 recorded fatalities in the forest….just one less than the tragic Pike River Mine explosion”.

Mr Adams also commented that he was “pleased with the level of engagement and passion displayed by the forestry sector delegates noting that the meeting, while important, was just the start of a more extensive consultation process”.

Panel member Hazel Armstrong encouraged participants to offer their views on how the Review should proceed and who the Panel should engage with. It was clear that the views of people working in the forests would be key to understanding the factors that contribute to serious injuries and fatalities.

Panel member Mike Cosman noted that “it is important that the Panel understands what good practice looks like as well as bad. We need to look closely at the safe worksites to learn what works well, along with understanding in depth what goes wrong when an injury or fatality occurs”.

Anyone with an interest in the Review is encouraged to email the Panel at info@ifsr.co.nz or go to the website www.ifsr.co.nz to monitor its progress.


Ends

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