Aim: This paper presents a detailed investigation of the injury experience of New Zealand forestry workers, including loggers and silviculture workers.
Methods: Record linkage of multiple data sources.
Results: During the period 1975-88, there were 81 work-related fatalities among loggers and 10 fatalities among silviculture workers, yielding fatality rates of 2.03 and 0.15 per 1000 workers/year, respectively. These figures were substantially higher than the fatal injury rate among the overall New Zealand workforce of 0.07 deaths per 1000 workers/year. In addition there were 1068 work-related injuries resulting in hospitalisation among loggers, and 478 among silviculture workers, yielding hospitalisation rates of 38.93 and 9.58 per 1000 workers/year, respectively. The types of injury contact involved in each incident were analysed. Contact with falling trees was the leading cause of death in forestry, accounting for over half of the fatal injuries among loggers and a third among silviculture workers. For loggers, the three commonest types of contact resulting in hospitalisation were: chainsaw injuries (n = 351; 33%), falling trees (n = 269; 25%), and rolling logs (n = 82; 8%). Among silviculture workers, the three commonest types of contact resulting in hospitalisation were: chainsaw injuries (n = 108; 23%), falling trees (n = 96; 20%), and falls/slips and trips (n = 94; 20%)
Conclusion: There is clear need for continued efforts to improve the overall safety of forestry work in New Zealand.