December 29, 2013
Political vanity outweighs industrial safety
Labour’s forestry spokesperson Shane Jones is calling for a hard-line approach on forestry safety.
Ten people have died in forestry accidents this year, and hundreds have been injured.
The last death on December 19 came in the same week a new government regulator, Worksafe New Zealand, started work.
Its acting chief executive, Geoffrey Podger, says forestry safety is a high priority.
He says inspectors have been out since August looking at cable-hauling operations, and they took enforcement action 203 times and shut down 15 operations.
Mr Jones says in terms of industrial safety, the forest industry is a war zone.
He says there has been a lack of emphasis on safety over the past 20 years, and the current defective regime is not helped by having a minister, Simon Bridges, “who is more concerned with political vanity than industrial safety.”
He says there is something systemically wrong.
“I think there is a case for reversion to what worked in past, very invasive inspectorate visits and a greater level of liability on firms in the forestry sector, particularly the foreign owned ones so that their foreign owners realise you cannot achieve commercial profit at the cost of industrial safety in New Zealand,” Mr Jones says.
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