Taranaki forestry worker killed by falling log

By Rahia Timutimu

WorkSafe New Zealand has announced a forestry worker died this morning in Taranaki.

The worker, in his 70s, was struck by a log falling off a truck during a logging operation in Te Wera Forest.

The man's name will not be released until his next of kin had been advised and formal identification was complete, police said.

This is the first forestry death that has been reported since January 2014, when then Māori MP for Te Waiariki, now Minister for Māori Development Hon Te Ururoa Flavell said that drastic measures needed to be taken with the forestry companies in regard to safety.

He stated, “We have to look closely at the protocol around forestry, look back on what's happened in the years gone by; how we can close the gaps. We also have to really concentrate on the companies so other workers will not end up the same way.”

Robert Ruri-Epapara was the last forestry worker killed at work, his family received a pay-out of $135,000 by a logging company after health and safety breaches resulted in his death.

WorkSafe Chief Executive Gordon MacDonald says the death this morning is a tragedy for the worker's family, his workmates and the tightknit forestry community.

"The worker's death reconfirms the need for everyone in forestry to make safety their number one priority and to be vigilant around every element of forest operations," he says.

There were 10 forestry deaths in 2013, just one last year, the count commences for 2015.