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Wood sector union welcomes Forest Safety report

Date of Release: 
Friday, October 31, 2014

The wood sector union has welcomed the Final Report of the Independent Forestry Safety Review, released in Rotorua today.

“The review panel is absolutely right to say that there is no silver bullet and a comprehensive series of actions needs to be taken to make the forests a safe workplace,” FIRST Union General Secretary Robert Reid said.

“With 32 fatalities and more than a thousand notified serious harm incidents in the industry between 2008 and 2013,  the call of the review for “system-wide change” and a strategy for this change is a major step forward in protecting the health and safety of forestry workers.”

“FIRST Union acknowledges the role that the families of forestry workers killed at work have played in forcing the review and submitting to it.  The review vindicates the concerns of the families and if the recommendations are followed then the deaths of their loved ones will not have been in vain.  

“Together with the Council of Trade Unions, FIRST Union has been active in the review process and we are pleased to see a comprehensive set of recommendations that will address the appalling safety record in our forests.”

“During the review, we highlighted forestry’s poor record of involving forestry workers in important decisions affecting their jobs and their lives.  We raised issues such as hours of work, fatigue, and training that have been taken up by the review panel.”

“Strong leadership on safety was lacking – and so the Forest Leader’s Action Group and the development of Forest Sector Health and Safety Plan is very much needed.”

“There are unique safety issues in forestry that need a distinct response, and we support the Review’s call that Government should not shy away from forestry specific regulations.”

“We support the push for an integrated workforce strategy and a contractor certification scheme that together would ameliorate the industry’s complex structure. As it stands the competitive contracting model does not provide a framework in which contractors and workers can work together on health and safety issues.”

“The Ministry for Primary Industries is projecting a 10.3% per annum export value increase to 2025 and this report provides a foundation upon which we can ensure workers are protected as this occurs. As the report makes clear, we need to move beyond the ‘can do’ attitude towards a ‘can do safely attitude.”

FIRST Union is now reviewing the Report in more detail and looks forward to being involved in the implementation process. 


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