New Zealand Labour Party calls for introduction of corporate manslaughter law after 11th forest industry fatality in 13 months, spokesman says government would already have acted if business executives were being killed at rate of almost one a month

WELLINGTON, New Zealand , January 16, 2014 (press release) – “If business executives were being killed at work at the rate of almost one a month, the Government would have moved a long time ago,” Labour’s spokesperson on Labour Issues, Andrew Little says, following another tragic forestry death today.

A forestry worker died in Wairau Valley this morning and another worker was seriously injured near Whakatane.

Today’s death is the 11th in 13 months.

“It can’t go on. Only two days ago, a contractor was penalised $135, 000 for unsafe practices leading to a fatality. Today, yet another family is mourning.

“If anyone is in any doubt as to the tragic consequences of those practices they only need acquaint themselves with the ‘Stop the Killing in Forestry’ campaign.

“WorkSafe New Zealand must urgently investigate whether the forest owner in the latest case has fulfilled its responsibilities under the Health and Safety Employment Act.

“The owner must be asked about its management system for health and safety, how many managers it had on site to ensure the work was carried out safely and what incentives, if any, it provided to speed up work at the risk of safety.

“It is the forest owners who select the contractor and who are in the best position to ensure their contractors are properly equipped to do the job and have adequate management and supervision to protect frontline workers.

“It’s impossible to believe that after 28 deaths in five years the industry doesn’t know what the problems and risks are, and how to prevent them. Any death in this industry must be regarded as preventable and therefore the responsibility of the industry.

“WorkSafe can only work within the existing law. It’s time the Government took seriously the calls for a corporate manslaughter law.”

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