Regional | Open Justice

Employee death sees forestry business convicted over safety standards

Nathan Paikea died while felling trees in a Taranaki forest. Photo / File

A forestry business has pleaded guilty to a charge laid in relation to the death of a worker who had been felling trees in Taranaki.

Tree Awareness Management Ltd admitted to a breach of its duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act when it appeared in New Plymouth District Court on Wednesday.

The prosecution followed WorkSafe’s investigation into the death of Nathan Paikea, who had been working in a privately-owned forest block near Stratford in August 2019.

Paikea was employed by Skyline Harvest Systems Limited, which was contracted by Tree Awareness Management.

Skyline Harvest System, also charged in relation to his death, has pleaded not guilty and is heading to trial.

The offending relates to a period between January 31 and July 30, 2019, when Tree Awareness Management failed to comply with its duty to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers undertaking felling in the Tututawa Forest.

WorkSafe said in a statement that Tree Awareness Management’s failings related to it not checking health and safety paperwork, whether observations of safe worker behaviour were being conducted, or whether the crew was self-auditing.

According to Safetree, which provides health and safety information for the plantation forest industry, Paikea was a 45-year-old father and retired member of the Kaingaroa volunteer fire department.

It said that at the time of his death, Paikea was clear-felling on a steep slope.

His body was found by his colleagues after he missed a scheduled call-in, it said.

A nominal sentencing date for Tree Awareness Management has been set down for December 16, while a date for Skyline Harvest Systems’ trial is yet to be confirmed.

Open Justice