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 – 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 ACoP’s and safety rules e.g. Safe Ops and GSR’s.

[    ]    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