Safety Bulletins

Are we at the top of our triangle?

Near hits - an indicator of harm!

Heinrich's Law suggests that for every event that causes a major injury (e.g. a death) there are near-hits that share common root causes.

 The quote “near-hits are lessons for free†allows us to see that we can learn from near hits by making the necessary changes before the more serious events happen. The question – will we learn? Live power line incidents are a case in point. Are we learning and making the necessary changes to prevent a ‘top of the triangle’ incident’? The information below will help us…


FIPS 7577, 29/12/15 – Minor Injury (High Potential Incident)

Two silviculture workers (waste thinning) were working at cutting regeneration under power lines which were not obvious, and had not been identified during the planning process¹.

A tree struck the power line bringing it to the ground where it started a small fire.   At a distance away, one of the workers attempted to cut a nearby branch that had caught on fire. As his chainsaw made contact with the branch, the worker received an electric shock.

 We must learn from incidents… and apply what we learn!

[     ]     Add specific prompts for utilities and other significant hazards to job checklists.

[     ]     Complete a pre-start hazard ID before starting each new job – no matter how small.

[     ]     Highlight significant hazards on maps, in written prescriptions and verbally.

[     ]     Managers – concern yourself with planning; periodically audit the planning process.

[     ]     Follow the relevant ACoP’s and safety rules e.g. Safe Ops and GSR’s.

[     ]     Discuss the job with all stakeholders – especially land and forest owners.

¹ It is of interest that the line (network) owner had made separate arrangements with the landowner to clear around the power lines. This clearing job was scheduled to occur around the time of the waste thinning job. Unfortunately, this important piece of information was not communicated to the forest manager and/or the contractor. Everyone in the chain (from April all PCBU’s) must appreciate the need to both discuss and aportion responsibility.

View this article in Safety Bulletin 99