Death a reminder to keep an eye on field staff

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A forestry services company has been ordered to pay NZ$536,000 for the death of a worker on a site near Wairoa in 2020. The victim, a 48-year-old father and husband, was killed at Quail Ridge Forest in Putere, near Wairoa, New Zealand on November 5, 2020.

The man, who WorkSafe has not named, was crushed while repairing a mechanical attachment, known as a harvester head, when the device was activated by being manually spun. The victim was an experienced and qualified service technician for forestry plant manufacturer/supplier Waratah Forestry Services Limited.

The company had been engaged by Freedom Logging Ltd, which was undertaking the harvest for Forestry Management NZ Ltd. Waratah pleaded guilty to health and safety failures and was sentenced in Auckland District Court on Wednesday.

WorkSafe found Waratah’s field technicians had been inadequately trained about the risks and controls involved in such a repair job, and weren’t properly monitored to correct any unsafe practices. The company was fined NZ$265,000 and ordered to pay reparations of NZ$271,000.

WorkSafe’s area investigation manager, Danielle Henry, said although Waratah’s field technicians were provided with some safety instruction, the manuals for the harvester head were large and the ‘buddy’ training system the business had was insufficient. “There was no other supervision and monitoring of the field technicians’ safety knowledge and practices,” she said.

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For more on the accident and learnings from WorkSafe, click here

Source: Stuff, WorkSafe

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