Health and safety paramount on forestry sites

A tragic forestry fatality on the East Coast could have been avoided if industry guidance had simply been being followed, says WorkSafe.

Businesses are being reminded once again to make sure work is being done correctly, safely and to higher industry standards or risk seeing their workers injured or killed.

Two companies appeared in court on 24 March 2021 for sentencing following the incident with the sentencing decision being released on 16 July 2021. Ernslaw One Limited engaged Pakiri Logging Limited to assist with harvesting at West Ho forest in Tologa Bay.

In February 2019, a breaker out worker for Pakiri Logging Limited was struck by a log being hauled out of the valley on a skyline cable. The victim died at the scene as a result of his injuries.

A WorkSafe investigation found both parties had failed to ensure the dangerous work was being carried out safely.

“Pakiri were not ensuring crew were following correct protocols while breaking out and harvesting work was taking place,” said WorkSafe’s Area Manager Danielle Henry.

“Our investigation found that the parties’ workers were not abiding to recommended safe retreat distances. At the time of the incident, the victim was 18-20 metres away from the skyline cable when he should have been at least 45 metres away.

“Audits commissioned by Ernslaw and Pakiri from May to September 2018 highlighted issues with the way in which a particular break out crew for Pakiri was operating. Despite issues identified in these audits being available to the companies months prior to the incident, the companies failed to take corrective action.

“Had the two companies discussed the audit results as and when they were provided and taken action as a result of the issues identified then this tragic incident could have been avoided.

“This highlights the importance of clear communication and the need to follow industry practice – especially in a high risk industry.”

Pakiri Logging Limited was fined $468,000 and Ernslaw One Limited was fined $288,000 at the Gisborne District Court while the companies have been ordered to share in reparations to the families for a total of $238,000

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