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Forestry safety standards missing out worker voice

Article Date: 
Wednesday, December 5, 2012

New forestry safety standards released today are missing a vital ingredient – workers.

The government today released the Approved Code of Practice for Safety and Health in Forest Operations at an industry conference in Rotorua.

FIRST Union General Secretary Robert Reid said the document was prepared without worker involvement.

“Workers are the ones risking their lives every day when they go to work in our forests and attempting to improve health and safety without the systematic involvement of workers is completely misguided.” 

“Our union submitted on the original discussion paper, but this was never acknowledged, nor have we been involved in the development of the standards since.”

The Council of Trade Unions said today that the new standards show government officials have learned nothing from the tragedy of Pike River.

“Last week saw another worker killed and one seriously injured, CTU president Helen Kelly said.

"That’s 13 in three years, as well at least 5 logging truck deaths since Christmas (not all drivers). 

Helen Kelly said the CTU has considerable concerns with the standards including:

- No provisions for employee participation (despite this being a key recommendation in the Pike River Report).
- Weak provisions around vehicles (for example no requirement for seatbelts)
- Risk shifting to employees (for example stating that workers can refuse unsafe work but  requiring them to work it out with their employer first rather than stating reciprocal obligations e.g. employers have an obligation to stop, listen and respond).

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