Red Alert

What killed Ken Callow?

Posted by on February 19th, 2013

Forestry is the most dangerous industry in New Zealand. In 2013 there have already been two deaths. Since 2008, 23 workers have died and almost 900 have been seriously injured. 

A New Zealand forestry worker is 6 times more likely to die at work than a UK forestry worker, and twice as likely as an Australian forestry worker. 


Each death is a family, community, workplace losing someone who was loved. Each injury is someone’s life being changed forever by something that happened at work. 

We need the government and the industry to step up and stop this from happening.

Read more about Ken Callow here. 


9 Responses to “What killed Ken Callow?”

  1. pmofnz says:

    Instead of calling for the gummint to ‘do something’ why not give the whole story?

    How many died whilst on Labour’s watch in the decade prior? How many were victims of their own demise due to being affected by drugs and/or alcohol in an extremely dangerous industry?

  2. Ivy says:

    “How many were victims of their own demise due to being affected by drugs and/or alcohol in an extremely dangerous industry?”

    That’s also a part of why building a safe workplace culture is so important.

  3. jennifer says:

    I’m pretty uncomfortable with seeing this bloke’s death politicised like this, particularly when it seems the circumstances were not exactly clear cut. Of course it is a tragedy when anyone dies on the job, but to suggest a government can “stop this from happening” is simply not credible. It’s like suggesting some government should “step up” and stop deaths on the road. That’s not to say the government should be hands-off, but I’m sure no government wants people to die on the job.

  4. pmofnz says:

    Ivy, no argument with that. The problem is that the H&S culture in New Zealand is a blatant stalking horse for unionising places of employment.

  5. Matt says:

    China did it.

  6. bbfloyd says:

    @pmofnz…blaming drugs and alcohol? do you know just how obvious it is to even the slowest forestry worker just how crazy they would have to be to get tanked up and do that work with even a semblence of safety??… Please don’t insult peoples intelligence as a tool to disagree…

    No-one who would be that foolish would last a matter of weeks in that environment, let alone years…It’s a job that requires people to trust their team members with their lives… do you honestly beleive they would trust a drunk, or a junky with that responsibility?? …

    When I’m not pretending to be a blues musician, I am a Boilermaker/welder… I’ve worked in shipyards/ mining infrastructure,(often in confined spaces deep within vessels/stuctures) etc…nothing I touched was less than twenty tonnes… At times, my life depended on someone monitoring the air I breathed, the temperatures I worked in, and the ever present dangers around me from other, equally large constructs being shifted around, or added to… i would have been happy to have those responsible for my safety removed/arrested if a hint of substance use was discovered…and that goes for all those in my position..

    The same goes for the forestry industry… It is a historical fact that forestry, by it’s very nature, is incredibly dangerous, so monitoring for any signs of drug abuse(alcohol/cannabis/amphetamines/opiates/prescription drugs) has been in place for decades….at least in Australia it has been….

    @jennifer..The issue is whether we align our safety, and labour laws with countries that have proven to have the methods required to reduce deaths, and serious injuries to the minimum….No-one with any knowledge of the industry is naive enough to expect accidents to completely disappear…But we can minimise the damage resulting from unneccesary errors…

  7. Amie says:

    Thankyou bbfloyd for reinforcing the fact that drugs and alcohol are not the underlying issues in the number of serious harm accidents and deaths in the forestry industry (as much as the industry would like everyone to think so). The underlying issue is that there are no minimum standards that forestry contractors need to adhere to in terms of working conditions which results in long hours (16 hours a day sometimes 6 days a week), extreme weather conditions (searing heat and sometimes snow), and undermining of health and safety proceedures by ‘fudging the books’. I have heard of many contractors who, when faced with a serious harm injury with one of their workers, get them to play it down and pay them under the table so that it is not recored as a lost time injury with ACC and their health and safety record is not tarnished and they still get the incentives put in place by ACC. It begs the question – how accurate are the forestry industry’s statistics really???? The campaign is not about politicising Ken’s death – it is about raising awareness about what these poor guys have to put up with and about giving them a voice – for many working in the industry they are too scared to speak up as it is their only employment option. It is my sincere wish that the Government will regulate the industry so that the forestry companies and contractors will not hold so much power over their workers and will see them as human beings and not just a statistic on a piece of paper.

  8. bbfloyd says:

    @Amie..Yes, the logging companies are being unethical in their dealings with workers safety…

    They are being encouraged to be so by laws enacted by the current raiding party since the great fraud of 2008…Laws that, when written, were understood to be signals of intent as much, if not more, than the stated aims of said law changes..

    It WILL require a change of government to redress what has become yet another stain on our national character..

    It is simply beyond the realms of probability that the current raiding party will have the sort of collective “revelation on the road to damascus” moment that would lead to them diverting from their task in any meaningful way…

    The plan is to strip out as much as they can get away with before too many people realise what is happening, and are panicked into voting for a government for once…The type of people who can be bought and paid for to do that, don’t tend to have social consciences….

  9. Carol says:

    I am sorry jennifer feels uncomfortable with the publicity this campaign is recieving. I am sure if were her son or family member she would no be feeling uncomfortble.

    The only way things will bring about change for people working in this industry is for the Government to make changes to regulations. The proposed ‘code’( due out in the next 12 months) will not bring about change as it is only recommended practice.

    Noone is disputing drug and alsohol testing is a positive move in the workforce, not just in the forestry sector, it is preceeding the other issues regarding health and safety in the forest industry.

    currently the forestry workers are held responsible for their own health and safety on the job. That leaves the forest owner, contractor and foreman no accountability for an accident so where is the incentive for workers to look out for their safety when they are being pressured to meet Quota’s.

    Should forestry workers adhere to all the health and safety policies throughout their working day they would not get home until 8 o’clock at night and have to work through the weekend to meet the contractual obligations of the contractor.

    Yes jennifer i do agree that the whole story has not been told – and who else is going to fight for these guys but the unions.