web analytics

Tale four – the Death of Philip McHardy. Killed 31 August 2011 – struck by a tree

Written By: - Date published: 7:35 pm, July 25th, 2013 - 7 comments
Categories: health and safety, workers' rights - Tags:

I have collected up the available documentation on the men killed in the forest since 2008. I am going to try, using the documents I have, to tell their story – one at a time. I haven’t been able to contact all the families of these men and hope if any of them read them, they are not surprised or upset to see the details set out like this.   You can find the first three blogs here and here and here.

Philip McHardy was killed while working in a pine plantation block in Overton Forest Winton on 31 August 2011.  He worked for Don Contracting and was working in a Southern Forest NZ Ltd managed forest.  Don Contracting employed 5 employees at the time.    Philip has worked for 18 months for the company.

The crew started work at 7.15am.  Philip was felling trees while the rest of the crew were doing other work.  Just after 1pm, a tree blew over on top of him and killed him.  He had 20 years experience.  It is unclear if Philip had taken any breaks that day.

Workers working on that day gave various accounts of the wind when they started work.  One said that at the time he started there was already a “reasonable breeze” blowing.  Others said that by 10.20am the wind started to pick up.  The investigation report by the DOL references the MetService reports for the day.  They recorded winds of between 20-35 km/h in the area with a cold front on the way.    After lunch one worker had actually started down to talk to Philip about the weather getting worse but had got called away to another task.  A truck driver arrived on the site and witnessed the tree falling on Philip – it was the last tree in the stand and he was about to fell it but it fell before being cut.

The regulations for forestry were changed in December 2012.  The previous regulations applied when this accident happened.  Listed under Employers general duties it said:

“The employer or person in charge shall suspend all operations when adverse weather creates significant hazards that cannot be satisfactorily controlled”.

In the new regulations this duty has been removed from employers and shifted to the  employees !

The provisions now say:

Hazard management

 2.8.1 All employees must identify and regularly review hazards in the place of work (existing, new and potential) to determine whether

they are “significant hazards” and require further action.

 2.8.2 Operations that are affected by adverse weather or other events shall be suspended if hazardous conditions cannot be satisfactorily controlled.

The new code was written by the forestry employers and signed off by the  Minister.  On weather conditions, it is significantly inferior to the Australian standards and it is unclear why the duties have now been shifted to the worker.  This is likely inconsistent with the Act.

The tree that killed Philip was the last tree in the stand.  These are known to be dangerous as they have often grown protected by other trees so have small root balls and are less stable.  They are also  very exposed to the wind when standing alone making them more dangerous.  The investigation report notes that there is no guidance on the risks of the last tree standing in the old ACOP.  This has not changed in the new regulations despite this accident – there is no recognition that the response to weather conditions might very depending on the risks at hand.

The investigation report notes that hazards were regularly discussed and a Pre Operation Physical Hazard Identification was conducted for this work but wind was not on the list.  No investigation into hours of work, employment standards or production requirements is recorded neither is any description of the system in place in this worksite to recognize and manage hazards.  It is unclear what the process was if people had concerns or to identify emerging  risks.

The employer insisted that the wind was not out of the ordinary that day and if it had been Philip would not have been working.  Employee interviews record that employees felt able to stop if they thought the weather was bad – no inquiry was made into  if they would be paid for stopping or in fact if they had ever stopped on their own accord.  This “worker control” approach seems inconsistent with the regulations and with the revelations that one worker at least was going to talk to Philip about the weather before he diverted and the fact a tree blew over.  The inspector found no breach of the Health and Safety Act.

The Coroner held an inquiry into this death.  The truck driver who witnessed the accident gave evidence of seeing that tree swinging and bending over at the top with the wind.  “I would estimate that it was bent over by five-six meters at the top.  It was still held at the bottom”  He then saw  the tree get pulled out of the ground by the wind and fall.

The Coroner found that on the 31 August 2011 at Overton Forest, weather conditions were poor and the wind was increasing.  He noted that all the witnesses at the hearing made mention of the fact of strong winds but because they thought the area Phillip was working in was sheltered they did not suspend operations.  This was despite the fact they had seen other trees falling down on the skyline.  The Coroner on a slight margin accepted the employer did not have a duty to call the operation off in the circumstances of the day because Philip was autonomous in this aspect of his work.  He found he “was a hard worker, wanting to please and because of his work ethic, has continued with the tree felling in adverse conditions, wanting to get the job finished”.

The evidence at the Coroners hearing also concluded:

  • that the trees being felled had small root balls and were easy to push over with diggers – this appears not to have been considered a hazard.
  • the ground was soft after several days of rain making the soil weaker; and
  •  the ground on which Philip was working  was water logged from water run off following the construction of an access track that pushed water over the area – again not noted as a hazard.

There was no evidence of any drug use.

The coroner found the accident occurred with the bringing together of a number of contributing factors including the wind and those factors noted above.  He  also felt that Philip working alone was part of the scenario leading to his death (had someone been nearby he may have had a caution given).

At 10.43am that morning, Philip had sent a text to his wife saying the area was getting windy – by lunch time he was dead.

At 3pm that day one of his children received a text from someone,  who heard it on the grapevine, that his dad had been killed.  He was the first in the family to know – the police notified his widow at 6.30 that evening.

 

 

 

7 comments on “Tale four – the Death of Philip McHardy. Killed 31 August 2011 – struck by a tree ”

  1. jim 1

    Lady lets hope your comment does not go by like the wind that the coroner described.Blown away without any overseeing care.

  2. Arfamo 2

    It’s a tragedy Helen. I can see how the laxer regs and operating method and poor risk management all operated against this worker.

  3. tricledrown 3

    Rural workers in this country are being exploited by greedy employers because they are isolated and easily manipulated by these employers!
    Long hours, poor conditions,, abuse, pay delays, no pay!

  4. CnrJoe 4

    good grief. the worker is responsible for hazard management? and if the boss says otherwise?- what? theres no pressure?
    Excellent work by the ctu.

    • Chris 4.1

      just because you work for a contractor & you have a ticket does not make the contractor or the company hiring the contractor any less liable than the worker. if you have a look at my comment below, ive stated some facts from the health & safety employment act that anybody who hires has a legal obligation, regardless of any contract that may have been signed, to take all practical steps to ensure the health & safety of staff on site. its a pity that workers don’t know their rights a little bit better. contractors & management have been brainwashing workers on their legal rights as an employer since adam was in nappies.

  5. Chris 5

    hi this is a sad fact about our industry forest owners’ & contractors can not be trusted to make these decisions to pull guys out of the felling zone or breaker outs off the extraction line. you see if they done this then the contractor would be eligible 4 compensation 4 loss of production so they eliminate cost & liability by giving the guys tickets & there lies the responsibility on the worker 2 pull the pin ….this is a rarity it is not encouraged by management or contractors & it is a mental obligation on the worker to keep the crew going. you see they have tickets to protect management & contractors but no ticket 4 the workers 2 gauge wind & rain ………another classic example of company & contractor skipping liability they will give the fellers felling tickets but no over head hazard ticket ….also they have time to audit your stumps yet no time to educate or train the fellers THIS IS WHY WE AS WORKERS NEED AN INDEPENDENT AUTHORITY TO OVER RULE THIS BLATANT NEGLICT OF WORKERS under the h/s employment act 1992 it states that an employer which is anyone who employs; hires or rewards and in relation to any employee which means an employer of the employee..and includes; in relation to any person employed by the chief executive or other employee of a crown organisation…….as I understand the owners & contractors are just as liable as the worker …….it also states the employer [contractor…forest owners ] must take ALL PRACTIAL STEPS TO ENSURE THE HEALTH & SAFETY OF THE EMPLOYEE this is section 2a 1 & 2a2 of the code … and also section 6 a,b;c;d;e TAPS (take all practical steps)…….so legally how do they slip through the net surely they’re accountable 4 neglect!
    The pathetic thing about this situation is there’s no need for people to die while felling in heavy winds. this is the second case ive known of in the past 4-5 years. I guess there will be more. if there was compensation for the contractor & worker there wouldn’t be any deaths relating to bad weather. once again profit before people. this is why we need independent regulation. people for the people

Links to post

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • $950k funding boost for World Conference on Women and Sport
    An additional $950,000 investment has been made to support New Zealand’s hosting of the 8th World Conference of the International Working Group on Women in Sport (IWG) in Auckland in 2022. The funding comes from the $265 million Sport Recovery Package and is for Women in Sport Aotearoa, Ngā Wāhine ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    17 mins ago
  • Celebrating Children’s Day / Te Rā o Ngā Tamariki
    Today marks Children’s Day / Te Rā o Ngā Tamariki and the Minister for Children, Kelvin Davis is asking all New Zealanders to think about their responsibility to support the lives of the tamariki in their communities and to make this a special day for celebrating them. Children’s Day / ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Initial Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission report shows progress
    Health Minister Andrew Little welcomes the Initial Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission’s assessment that transformation of New Zealand’s approach to mental health and addiction is underway. “This is an important step in the Government’s work to provide better and equitable mental health and wellbeing outcomes for all people in New ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Over $300m returned to COVID-hit travellers
    The Government’s Consumer Travel Reimbursement Scheme has helped return over $352 million of refunds and credits to New Zealanders who had overseas travel cancelled due to COVID-19, Consumer Affairs Minister David Clark says. “Working with the travel sector, we are helping New Zealanders retrieve the money owed to them by ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Hundreds more schools join free lunches programme
    An additional 88,000 students in 322 schools and kura across the country have started the school year with a regular lunch on the menu, thanks to the Government’s Ka Ora, Ka Ako Healthy School Lunches programme. They join 42,000 students already receiving weekday lunches under the scheme, which launched last ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Govt’s balanced economic approach reflected in Crown accounts
    New Zealand’s economic recovery has again been reflected in the Government’s books, which are in better shape than expected. The Crown accounts for the seven months to the end of January 2021 were better than forecast in the Half Year Economic and Fiscal Update (HYEFU). The operating balance before gains ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Over half of border workforce receive first vaccinations
    More than half of New Zealand’s estimated 12,000 border workforce have now received their first vaccinations, as a third batch of vaccines arrive in the country, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says. As of midnight Tuesday, a total of 9,431 people had received their first doses. More than 70 percent ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Boost in funding to deliver jobs while restoring Central Otago’s lakes and waterways
    The Government is significantly increasing its investment in restoring Central Otago’s waterways while at the same time delivering jobs to the region hard-hit by the economic impact of Covid-19, says Land Information Minister, Damien O’Connor.   Mr O’Connor says two new community projects under the Jobs for Nature funding programme will ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Next stage of COVID-19 support for business and workers
    The Government has confirmed details of COVID-19 support for business and workers following the increased alert levels due to a resurgence of the virus over the weekend. Following two new community cases of COVID-19, Auckland moved to Alert Level 3 and the rest of New Zealand moved to Alert Level ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Govt committed to hosting Rugby World Cup
    The Government remains committed to hosting the Women’s Rugby World Cup in New Zealand in 2022 should a decision be made by World Rugby this weekend to postpone this year’s tournament. World Rugby is recommending the event be postponed until next year due to COVID-19, with a final decision to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Support Available for Communities affected by COVID-19
    Community and social service support providers have again swung into action to help people and families affected by the current COVID-19 alert levels. “The Government recognises that in many instances social service, community, iwi and Whānau Ora organisations are best placed to provide vital support to the communities impacted by ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Govt announces review into PHARMAC
    The Government is following through on an election promise to conduct an independent review into PHARMAC, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Health Minister Andrew Little announced today. The Review will focus on two areas: How well PHARMAC performs against its current objectives and whether and how its performance against these ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Impressive response to DOC scholarship programme
    Some of the country’s most forward-thinking early-career conservationists are among recipients of a new scholarship aimed at supporting a new generation of biodiversity champions, Conservation Minister Kiri Allan says. The Department of Conservation (DOC) has awarded one-year postgraduate research scholarships of $15,000 to ten Masters students in the natural ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Speech to ANZLF Virtual Indigenous Business Trade and Connections Event
    I acknowledge our whānau overseas, joining us from Te Whenua Moemoeā, and I wish to pay respects to their elders past, present, and emerging. Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you all today. I am very pleased to be part of the conversation on Indigenous business, and part ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Main benefits to increase in line with wages
    Social Development and Employment Minister Carmel Sepuloni announced today that main benefits will increase by 3.1 percent on 1 April, in line with the rise in the average wage. The Government announced changes to the annual adjustment of main benefits in Budget 2019, indexing main benefit increases to the average ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Deed of Settlement signed with Ngāti Maru (Taranaki)
    A Deed of Settlement has been signed between Ngāti Maru and the Crown settling the iwi’s historical Treaty of Waitangi claims, Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Andrew Little announced today. The Ngāti Maru rohe is centred on the inland Waitara River valley, east to the Whanganui River and its ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Support in place for people connected to Auckland COVID-19 cases
    With a suite of Government income support packages available, Minister for Social Development and Employment Carmel Sepuloni is encouraging people, and businesses, connected to the recent Auckland COVID-19 cases to check the Work and Income website if they’ve been impacted by the need to self-isolate. “If you are required to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Statement on passing of former PNG PM Sir Michael Somare
    Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has expressed her condolences at the passing of long-serving former Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare. “Our thoughts are with Lady Veronica Somare and family, Prime Minister James Marape and the people of Papua New Guinea during this time of great ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Speech to the National Māori Housing Conference 2021
    E te tī, e te tā  Tēnei te mihi maioha ki a koutou  Ki te whenua e takoto nei  Ki te rangi e tū iho nei  Ki a tātou e tau nei  Tēnā tātou.  It’s great to be with you today, along with some of the ministerial housing team; Hon Peeni Henare, the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Drone project to aid protection of Māui dolphin
    The Government is backing a new project to use drone technology to transform our understanding and protection of the Māui dolphin, Aotearoa’s most endangered dolphin.    “The project is just one part of the Government’s plan to save the Māui dolphin. We are committed to protecting this treasure,” Oceans and Fisheries ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New water regulator board announced as major Government reform moves forward
    Major water reform has taken a step closer with the appointment of the inaugural board of the Taumata Arowai water services regulator, Hon Nanaia Mahuta says. Former Director General of Health and respected public health specialist Dame Karen Poutasi will chair the inaugural board of Crown agency Taumata Arowai. “Dame ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • North Auckland gets public transport upgrade
    The newly completed Hibiscus Coast Bus Station will help people make better transport choices to help ease congestion and benefit the environment, Transport Minister Michael Wood and Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said today. Michael Wood and Phil Goff officially opened the Hibiscus Coast Bus Station which sits just off the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Supporting work to protect Northland reserve
    New funding announced by Conservation Minister Kiri Allan today will provide work and help protect the unique values of Northland’s Te Ārai Nature Reserve for future generations. Te Ārai is culturally important to Te Aupōuri as the last resting place of the spirits before they depart to Te Rerenga Wairua. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Critical step to new housing deal for Pacific communities
      Today the Government has taken a key step to support Pacific people to becoming Community Housing providers, says the Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio. “This will be great news for Pacific communities with the decision to provide Pacific Financial Capability Grant funding and a tender process to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Consultation opens on proposed Bay of Islands marine mammal sanctuary
    Conservation Minister Kiri Allan is encouraging New Zealanders to have their say on a proposed marine mammal sanctuary to address the rapid decline of bottlenose dolphins in Te Pēwhairangi, the Bay of Islands. The proposal, developed jointly with Ngā Hapū o te Pēwhairangi, would protect all marine mammals of the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Three District Court Judges appointed
    Attorney-General David Parker today announced the appointment of three new District Court Judges.    Two of the appointees will take up their roles on 1 April, replacing sitting Judges who have reached retirement age.     Kirsten Lummis, lawyer of Auckland has been appointed as a District Court Judge with jury jurisdiction to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Government announces list of life-shortening conditions guaranteeing early KiwiSaver access
    Government announces list of life-shortening conditions guaranteeing early KiwiSaver access The Government changed the KiwiSaver rules in 2019 so people with life-shortening congenital conditions can withdraw their savings early The four conditions guaranteed early access are – down syndrome, cerebral palsy, Huntington’s disease and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder An alternative ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Reserve Bank to take account of housing in decision making
    The Reserve Bank is now required to consider the impact on housing when making monetary and financial policy decisions, Grant Robertson announced today. Changes have been made to the Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee’s remit requiring it to take into account government policy relating to more sustainable house prices, while working ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Investment to reduce cochlear implant waitlist
    The Labour Government will invest $6 million for 70 additional adult cochlear implants this year to significantly reduce the historical waitlist, Health Minister Andrew Little says. “Cochlear implants are life changing for kiwis who suffer from severe hearing loss. As well as improving an individual’s hearing, they open doors to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Māori wards Bill passes third reading
    The Local Electoral (Māori Wards and Māori Constituencies) Amendment Bill passed its third reading today and will become law, Minister of Local Government Hon Nanaia Mahuta says. “This is a significant step forward for Māori representation in local government. We know how important it is to have diversity around ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Government delivers 1,000 more transitional housing places
    The Government has added 1,000 more transitional housing places as promised under the Aotearoa New Zealand Homelessness Action Plan (HAP), launched one year ago. Minister of Housing Megan Woods says the milestone supports the Government’s priority to ensure every New Zealander has warm, dry, secure housing. “Transitional housing provides people ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Second batch of Pfizer/BioNTech doses arrives safely – as the first vaccinations take place in the...
    A second batch of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines arrived safely yesterday at Auckland International Airport, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says. “This shipment contained about 76,000 doses, and follows our first shipment of 60,000 doses that arrived last week. We expect further shipments of vaccine over the coming weeks,” Chris Hipkins said. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • $18 million for creative spaces to make arts more accessible
    The Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Carmel Sepuloni has today announced $18 million to support creative spaces. Creative spaces are places in the community where people with mental health needs, disabled people, and those looking for social connection, are welcomed and supported to practice and participate in the arts ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Moriori Claims Settlement Bill passes first reading
    Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Minister Andrew Little today welcomed Moriori to Parliament to witness the first reading of the Moriori Claims Settlement Bill. “This bill is the culmination of years of dedication and hard work from all the parties involved. “I am delighted to reach this significant milestone today,” Andrew ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Government action reduces child poverty
    22,400 fewer children experiencing material hardship 45,400 fewer children in low income households on after-housing costs measure After-housing costs target achieved a year ahead of schedule Government action has seen child poverty reduce against all nine official measures compared to the baseline year, Prime Minister and Minister for Child Poverty ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Entries open for the 2021 Prime Minister’s Education Excellence Awards
    It’s time to recognise the outstanding work early learning services, kōhanga reo, schools and kura do to support children and young people to succeed, Minister of Education Chris Hipkins says. The 2021 Prime Minister’s Education Excellence Awards are now open through until April 16. “The past year has reminded us ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Jobs for Nature benefits three projects
    Three new Jobs for Nature projects will help nature thrive in the Bay of Plenty and keep local people in work says Conservation Minister Kiri Allan. “Up to 30 people will be employed in the projects, which are aimed at boosting local conservation efforts, enhancing some of the region’s most ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Improvements to the Holidays Act on the way
    The Government has accepted all of the Holidays Act Taskforce’s recommended changes, which will provide certainty to employers and help employees receive their leave entitlements, Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Wood announced today. Michael Wood said the Government established the Holidays Act Taskforce to help address challenges with the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • NZ’s credit rating lifted as economy recovers
    The Government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and faster than expected economic recovery has been acknowledged in today’s credit rating upgrade. Credit ratings agency Standard & Poor’s (S&P) today raised New Zealand’s local currency credit rating to AAA with a stable outlook. This follows Fitch reaffirming its AA+ rating last ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Speech to National Remembrance Service on the 10th anniversary of the Christchurch earthquake
    Tena koutou e nga Maata Waka Ngai Tuahuriri, Ngai Tahu whanui, Tena koutou. Nau mai whakatau mai ki tenei ra maumahara i te Ru Whenua Apiti hono tatai hono, Te hunga mate ki te hunga mate Apiti hono tatai hono, Te hunga ora ki te hunga ora Tena koutou, Tena ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago