New Zealand's Forest Industry Contractors Assn. responds to deaths of two forestry workers in one week, calls for more spending on injury prevention, warns against Accident Compensation Corporation's plans to reduce levies by 17% in 2014

ROTORUA, New Zealand , December 3, 2013 (press release) – It is tragic that two men died working in the bush last week while forest contractors, managers and service providers to the forest industry were participating in biggest forest safety conference ever held in this country.

The Forest Industry Contractors Association thinks it would also be wrong if the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) continued with plans to reduce levies across all categories by 17% next year. The current forestry safety culture programmes need to reach more, not less people. A levy reduction is not welcome news under the circumstances. Our people need to grow injury prevention measures in forestry, says FICA.

“In principle our members agree with ACC’s premiums being linked to the costs of claims. But at the same time it is a perverse outcome for ACC to reduce levies in this workplace category when what we really need is more spending on injury prevention,” says Forest Industry Contractors Association (FICA) spokesman, John Stulen.

“For years these prevention funding levels were agreed for joint industry and government projects. Over the past 18 months ACC and MBIE management restructuring caused delays to negotiations over project funding for industry strategies to prevent the very accidents that are taking a terrible human toll,” Mr Stulen added, “If anything the prevention project funding should be raised substantially right now.”

Joint industry and government funding levels for the major forestry strategies on tree falling and break out harm reduction work had been working well for over 4 years – but from June 2012 the wheels fell off when ACC and MBIE management systems were changed. The stoppage in funding came at exactly the wrong time.

“Just recently new funding agreements have been agreed and sorted. But the lengthy delay was totally unacceptable given the long-term strategies and deliverables industry had demonstrated. The work was interrupted. Important momentum was lost in the major injury prevention work programmes when we needed them most,” remarked Mr Stulen.

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