The attitude of production over safety that led to the Pike River tragedy is still rife in New Zealand. People are being injured and killed in our forests at five times the rate of the UK.
This video tells the story of one of the families left behind after their son Ken was killed by a falling tree:
Ken was killed in the Wharerata forest – one of three forestry deaths in that forest in the last 20 months. Each of the three deceased worked for separate contracting companies. The forest owners benefitted from Ken’s work, but offered no reciprocal employment protections as they had contracted that out to his direct employer. Ken appears to have made a terrible mistake, while at work one day, resulting in his death. Under production pressure, he appears to have abandoned the felling of a tree on which he had begun work due to discovering it was rotten and of no value. He moved on to the next tree leaving a hazard close by which collapsed on him taking his life. The DOL inspector found Ken was “the architect of this own demise”. The inspector does not appear to have taken into account whether the terms and conditions of Ken’s employment may have impacted on his decision to leave a hazard in place. A forest owner in the region described the three deaths as “unfortunate”.
This is a national scandal, but we can all help push it up the agenda. Go to the campaign fundraising site and donate some cash to get Ken’s story on a billboard.
If we all chip in a bit we can make a big difference.