Logging death in Taranaki

26 March 2015

A forestry worker has died after being struck by a log falling off a truck in Taranaki yesterday morning. He was James Stuart Oxenham, 72, of Urenui in north Taranaki, who was working in a logging operation in the Te Wera Forest, east of Stratford.

Taranaki Rescue Helicopter pilot Stephen Beck said Oxenham was adjusting a strap on a log truck when one of the logs dislodged and rolled on top of him. Emergency services were called to the accident scene but despite colleagues performing CPR on Oxenham, he was dead by the time they arrived.

Thursday's fatality has come as a blow to the industry. Late last year the Independent Forest Safety Review panel released a series of recommendations designed to improve safety in the sector after 11 fatalities in 2013. It was one of several measures that saw fatalities fall to one in 2014 and a dramatic decline in serious harm injuries.

Stratford police and WorkSafe New Zealand have begun investigations into the cause of the incident.

The death was a tragedy for Mr Oxenham's family, his workmates and the tight-knit forestry community, WorkSafe chief executive Gordon MacDonald said.

"[His] death reconfirms the need for everyone in forestry to make safety their number one priority and to be vigilant around every element of forest operations," he said.

Sources: Taranaki Daily News, NZME and TVNZ