Forestry death guilty plea proves case for reform

A logging company’s guilty plea over the death of one of their workers proves the need to strengthen health and safety laws, Labour’s spokesperson for Labour Issues Iain Lees-Galloway says.

Charles Finlay was killed in July 2013 when he was hit by a shard of wood after a log rolled off his truck. 

M and A Cross today admitted in the Rotorua District Court that they failed to take all practicable steps to ensure Charles Finlay’s safety at work and failed to maintain a safe work environment for him by failing to provide adequate clothing.

“WorkSafe had refused to prosecute this company. This guilty plea only came about after the Council of Trade Unions took a private prosecution.

“Under the Health and Safety Reform Bill currently before Parliament, if WorkSafe takes the maximum two years available to determine it won’t prosecute, a private prosecution is not allowed.

“Labour is proposing an amendment which would give interested parties six months to take action after WorkSafe makes its determination.

“We want to stop workplace deaths from occurring in the first place and an important part of that is having health and safety representatives. This is crucial in high-risk and isolated work environments such as forestry and farming.

“National’s petty infighting and their pandering to a minority of bad employers has resulted in this Bill being gutted. Unless Labour’s other amendment is adopted, 300,000 workers will be denied the right to health and safety representatives.

“Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Woodhouse should pick up Labour’s amendments and make real changes that will protect workers like Charles Finlay,” Iain Lees-Galloway says.