Felling. No Room for Complacency!
ACOP Rule 2.5.1 states "The employer (referring to the principal contractor) shall ensure that a competent person is in charge of each operation, who shall supervise and ensure work is supervised and performed in a safe manner."
That safe manner is the 5-step tree felling plan;
(1) Site assessment,
(2) Individual tree assessment,
(3) Preparation of the work area and escape route,
(4) Choose and use safe felling techniques, and
(5) Retreat and observe.
These 5-steps are critical to success; as the following incidents show:
Noggin #271: A tree feller was walking to the next tree and his chosen path took him through a small water race (this is an old mining site). As he reached his next tree he tripped on a vine, lost his balance and he fell back into the water race. In the process he sustained a large gash to his upper arm.
Noggin #298: A tree feller, having felled a tree, was walking along his escape route. A branch came back at him from the area in front, striking him across the neck and chest.
Tripped up During Step 2/5 the Individual Tree Assessment!
- Look up for dead or broken branches; anything that may dislodge during felling.
- Look for branches interlocking with branches of other trees.
- Watch your step on vines, holes, loose and water-logged soils can be treacherous.
- Look for rot or other disturbance around the base that could affect fall direction.
- Always follow the relevant ACoPs and safety rules e.g. Safe Ops and GSRs.
- Monitor the wind speed and direction and know when felling should stop.
- Remember: If you do not think you can fell a tree safely, leave it and get help.
View this article in Safety Bulletin 109