April 22, 2013
CTU calls for Government inquiry as forestry death toll rises to four
The Council of Trade Unions is calling for a Government inquiry into health and safety in the forestry industry after a 23-year-old forestry worker was killed near New Plymouth this morning.
This is the fourth fatality in the forestry industry this year, and comes amid increasing pressure for the Government to investigate safety conditions in the industry.
Since 2008 there have been 26 fatalities in the forestry industry and nearly 900 accidents causing serious harm.
CTU president Helen Kelly says workers and their families want Government action on the forestry death toll.
“There have now been four people killed in our forests in as many months. This is a shocking toll with a very real human cost to the families and communities left behind.
“New Zealand has twice the death rate of Australia and six times that of the UK, but the Government has done little more than muck around with weak codes of practice, breakfast meetings with workers that assume they are the problem, and new initiatives that fail to address the underlying problems.
“Meanwhile the forest owners continue to deny there is a problem at all. Despite industry claims that the long-term trend is improving, the figures show there are more people being killed working in our forests now than at any time in the last twenty years.”
Helen Kelly says six forestry families will meet in Auckland on Sunday for Workers’ Memorial Day.
“Today’s death sadly sends these families the message that the deaths they mourn have meant nothing to an industry that refuses to change. The Government needs to step in now before even more Kiwi workers are killed in our forests.”
Note: After the last forestry death the forestry industry claimed that as a result of their national action plans, the long term trend in forestry safety is improving and that the fatality rate in the past year is just one third of what it was about a decade ago. The death toll for 2012 was seven. In 2000 there were five deaths, in 2001 there were two, in 2002 there were five and 2003 there were six. 2004 saw just one death, and there were five deaths in 2005 and 2006 respectively. Last year was worst equal in terms of numbers of deaths since 1995 and this year looks as if it may be the same or worse.