Company sentenced over forestry incident that left young worker unconscious


A company in New Zealand was sentenced after an unsupervised worker was hit by a felled tree and knocked unconscious.

The workers were told to apply the two tree length rule but had no measuring equipment to ensure the safe operating distance was used. The victim was struck by a tree felled by another worker. Evidence shows that the workers were working too closely together.

“Doing half the job is just not enough in forestry and the failure to accurately identify the exclusion zone meant the victim was able to walk into danger,” said Grant Duffy, WorkSafe NZ’s Engagement Lead for Forestry.

WorkSafe’s investigation found the crew of trainee workers was not sufficiently supervised.

“There were multiple issues involved in this near-tragedy. The workers did not have adequate supervision; additional training, supervision or disciplinary action was not provided for workers known to be working in an unsafe manner; and there were no systems or equipment in place to ensure safe working distances.

“This incident occurred as a combination of all the company’s failings and they are extremely lucky this young, inexperienced and unsupervised worker was not killed.”

Mr. Duffy said risks inherent in felling trees and the hazard of falling trees are well known.

“In the last year, there have been four fatalities in the forestry and logging industry. Last year, there were 138 injuries resulting in workers needing a week away from work,” he said.

“In a high-risk industry such as forestry supervision of trainee workers is integral. This is a wakeup call to all crews to ensure they are not putting their workers at risk of injury.”

The court ordered a starting point of $450,000 for the fine, an end fine of $25,000 payable over five years was ordered due to the financial circumstances of the company.

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