Industry Watchdogs Urge Forestry Sector to Prioritise Safety

Forestry SectorNew Zealand’s forestry industry is one of the biggest in the country – as the third largest export, it makes 3.2 per cent of the GDP. Forestry is a dangerous job and requires stringent safety measure to protect workers from injury and death.

Current measures to improve safety in the forestry industry are the addition of rollover protection structures (ROPS) and guards. Companies like provide full ROPS and forestry guards to provide sufficient protection.

ROPS are steel structures that encase the driver and passenger pits that prevent them from being crushed in the event of a rollover. Forestry guarding features metal frames and screens that prevent branches and other types of debris from hitting workers. The Health and Safety Group of the Ministry require the use of these features to minimise risks.

Unfortunately, many workers still lose their lives despite the safety measures in place.

A Dangerous Job

In 2016 alone, six deaths related to the forestry industry were reported. The latest accident occurred in Pohokura forest, Hawkes Bay. A steel cable struck a 24-year old man in August and he died from his injuries.

Worksafe New Zealand, the industry’s watchdog, wants to use stricter enforcement methods to prevent such tragedies from happening again. They want to take a proactive approach to be able to assess all logging operations at ground level. Any unsafe behaviour that is not in line with the Health and Safety Employment Act will be met with strong enforcement.

Upcoming Change

An upcoming bill from the NZ Institute of Forestry will revitalise the sector, taking a new approach to growing the industry and improving safety. They will also provide more in-depth training to workers and operators in the industry.

With the numerous safety concerns, it is more important than ever for foresting companies to invest more in the safety of their employees.