Father of man killed in workplace accident wants WorkSafe to get more funding

The father of a man who died in a workplace accident says WorkSafe NZ needs more funding.

Leslie Laing died in a forestry accident in 2017, and on Monday his employer was ordered to pay nearly $500,000.

After Leslie's death, his five children were left without a dad, and now his own father has a lot on his plate.

"Trying to make sure they're looked after - really it's a bit of a problem," Doug Laing says.

"The most senior bloke in the family ends up with a lot to do. You sort of wonder if you've ever had a chance to grieve."

Leslie was a forestry worker at Guru NZ Limited and was crushed against a shipping container by a digger while working. By law, no worker should have been allowed within seven metres.

Guru NZ Limited pleaded guilty to failing to ensure the safety of its workers, and was fined $330,000 and ordered to pay $110,000 in reparation.

A lawyer for the company says the payments to the family can't compensate for the loss the family has suffered.

"It's an unfortunate part of the system, but it is the system, and these payments are very willingly made," Garth Galloway says.

The system is also involved in prevention. WorkSafe carries out about 12,000 proactive workplace assessment every year.

But there are more than 158,000 businesses with employees, leaving more than 140,000 uninspected.

Doug says WorkSafe needs more resources.

"Too much of the work is reactive. It's not the staff's fault they're seriously under-resourced. They need a lot more staff to be able to get on with the job of keeping up with the companies."

WorkSafe received $94 million in Government funding in 2019. For perspective, that's less than the Government is paying for the America's Cup - $136 million.

Meanwhile, 108 people died at work in 2019.

"Closure is hard to come by but it'd be to see that number reduced a hell of a lot," Doug says.