New Zealand Labour Party

Zero tolerance for forestry accidents a must

The Government must adopt a zero tolerance approach to workplace accidents in the forestry sector to stop people being killed, Labour’s Forestry spokesperson Chris Hipkins says.

“It is time for the Government and the forestry sector to put an end to the dangerous practises which resulted in the deaths of 10 workers last year alone.

“The Independent Forestry Safety Review – set up because the Government refused to do its own inquiry – has today called for a cultural change in the approach to workplace safety across the entire sector from government to the forest floor.

“It has also highlighted the danger of fatigue and a lack of breaks for workers. That is deeply ironic when the Government last night scrapped statutory tea-break entitlements.

“The Government argued that change would increase flexibility without affecting health and safety. However, the forestry review has found: ‘Taking only one short break to accommodate finishing work, or getting home a little earlier is a poor excuse for failing to comply with employment standards’.

“In Canada they had around 25 forestry deaths a year until they introduced zero tolerance for workplace accidents. If the Government believes we are so similar to Canada that it locked down Parliament after a terror attack there, it should also adopt its approach to forestry.

“This would require WorkSafe to hold forestry companies responsible and issue penalties which will discourage profits before safety.

“National can no longer sit back and watch workers die in our forests. It must take action now,” Chris Hipkins says.