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Safety standards found lacking after Kidd death

Lesley and Craig Kidd, parents of forestry worker Lincoln Kidd, want health and safety standards improved in the industry to prevent another death. Source: Stuff NZ

The mother of a Horowhenua forestry worker crushed to death by a tree say he should have received more workplace training.

The second day of a coronial inquest into the death of Lincoln Kidd, of Levin, was held in Palmerston North on Wednesday.

Mr Kidd, 20, died when a tree crushed him on the Aratangata forestry block, between Foxton and Levin, on December 19, 2013.

Speaking away from the inquest, his mother, Lesley Kidd, said her son needed and wanted more training.

Training was constantly “put off” and someone should be held accountable, she said.

Worksafe investigator Donald Calder said safety standards were not up to scratch at the site where forestry worker Lincoln Kidd died.

“It’s all too easy to blame the dead man.”

Paul Burr, owner of Paul Burr Contracting Ltd, felled the tree that crushed Kidd. He pleaded guilty to health and safety charges relating to the death, but was found not guilty of Kidd’s manslaughter after a trial.

Lesley Kidd said a combination of a lack of training and communication, as well as unidentified hazards, were to blame for her son’s death.

“Follow the rules. It’s not hard,” she said.

She said her son raised concerns about the safety of his workplace with her during the time he worked for Burr.

During the coronial hearing, it was revealed Paul Burr Contracting Ltd had no record of training Kidd and could not prove whether he knew the health and safety standards.

Coroner Tim Scott said it was unknown whether Lincoln understood the two-tree rule, which required workers to be at least two tree lengths away from a felling. The issue was whether Kidd thought the rule only applied to the direction the tree was expected to fall, rather than to the entire circumference of the felled tree, Scott said.

When questioned by the coroner about Kidd’s level of knowledge, Burr said any “experienced bushman” would understand the two-tree rule.

“The two-tree rule is like riding a push bike,” he said.

Burr employed Kidd upon recommendation from another employee, Raymond Pakau.

“I said to him, ‘I will employ him but you watch him’.”

Pakau supervised Kidd, but also did not keep any documentation of training.

Donald Calder, who was a Worksafe investigator, told the coroner that as a junior employee, Kidd was vulnerable.

“He was on his feet, on the ground.

“Burr and Pakau were in the protection of their heavy duty machines.”

It was not unreasonable to expect Burr to check Kidd’s whereabouts before felling each tree, especially considering there were only two other workers on the site, Calder said.

The tree that fell on Kidd dropped in the opposite direction to what it was expected to, he said.

The coroner said he also wanted to talk to Kidd’s previous employer, Murray Spiers, about whether he had received training during the four years he worked for the forestry contractor and farmer, to determine his level of knowledge about tree felling. The hearing was adjourned until December.