Drastic safety improvements needed in Forestry

By Mere McLean
  • Waikato/Bay of Plenty

Māori MP for Te Waiariki,Te Ururoa Flavell, says drastic measures need to taken with the forestry companies in regard to safety. This follows the pay-out of $135,000 by a logging company after health and safety breaches that resulted in the death of a worker. 

The forestry industry produced $5 billion for the New Zealand economy last year, but the death rate of workers in this industry is on the increase with the most recent incident occurring in Marlborough.

Te Ururoa Flavell, Māori MP for the Waiariki, believes that companies need to be monitored in regard to health and safety.

He says, “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.”

This week, Robert Ruri-Epapara's family received a pay-out of $70,000 from the forestry company after NZ Safety found they failed to comply with safety rules on the day he died. An extra $60,000 was also added to the company's bill of fines, but money can never replace a person. 

Last year alone, 10 forestry workers died and with this most recent death, the count begins for 2014.