Forestry worker safety top priority for Shane Jones

By Talisa Kupenga

The Minister of Forestry Shane Jones says worker safety will be an absolute priority in realising the government's plan of planting one billion trees.

"We can't forget the amount of Māori men who have been injured on the job," says Jones, "Some say drugs etc are to blame, that's not necessarily the case."

"Yes, workers have a level of responsibility when it comes to their safety-  but beyond that, it's up to companies to have policies in place and know the circumstances, the number of incidents and extreme dangers that have occurred when safety measures weren't enough."

Jones' stance follows calls from Māori shareholders and Labour Deputy Leader Kelvin Davis for more top-tier industry and shareholder accountability in forestry.

During the Native Affairs Election Aotearoa 2017 debates Kelvin Davis said, "One of the issues is shareholders- who don't have any skin in the game other than they're up here- they're putting pressure on the contractors to actually do more work and work harder and faster...if some of the responsibility fell on those people right at the top, then we might see a bit more safety."

Read more: FORESTRY SAFETY SHOULD BE MULTI-LEVEL RESPONSIBILITY

Jones also says that he hopes to significantly reduce road damage caused by logging trucks by utilising rail for transportation.