Forestry is one of the most dangerous industries in New Zealand along with that other 'F' word Farming.

A Hokitika forestry worker was off work for months with debilitating spinal fractures, bruising and kidney injuries after he was hit by a log while in a designated safe area.

His employer, Thomas Logging Limited was today fined $17,000 in the Greymouth District Court and ordered to pay reparations of $20,000 following the accident in the Kaniere Forest Block near Hokitika last September.

They were convicted for breaches of section 6 of the Health and Safety in employment Act.

The employee was sharpening his chainsaw in an area of the site designated for employees and visitors because it was originally located away from any hazards. However, the layout of the site had been changed two days prior to the accident. This meant that the safe area was no longer in a safe position.

At the same time another employee was using an excavator nearby to clear off cut logs. A 5.5 metre log came loose from the excavator hitting the employee in the back, causing his injuries.

“The company carried out a hazard identification before the work started, then two days before the incident they changed the layout of the work area without changing the designated safe area and that put employees in danger of being hit by moving logs and machinery,” says Department of Labour, Christchurch Service Manager, Margaret Radford.

“This employee could have been spared these debilitating injuries if a simple hazard identification was done again after the site layout was changed, and the safe area moved,” Ms Radford says.

Comment

This case is a reminder of the need for hazard management to be ongoing and ‘active’. Most workplaces do proper hazard assessments when a job or work area is set up. Not that many monitor how the ongoing operations are affecting the hazard management plan and consider any adjustments that need to be made.