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Mandatory Observer – Changes!

In 2016, following a period of trial, PF Olsen introduced its mandatory observer policy. The policy was an appropriate response to managing risks in manual tree felling, and there were several other benefits, including:

  • Reducing tree feller fatigue by sharing the load.
  • Providing a great environment to train new tree fellers.
  • To help maintain manual felling capacity especially as more operations turn to mechanisation, and
  • To enable immediate emergency response.

Many of our Contractors have expressed appreciation for these benefits, however, installing and maintaining the mandatory observer policy hasn’t been warmly received by all. In some regions our Contractors have grappled with the policy saying that an observer is not necessary where the felling risk is lower and that labour shortages are a key issue for them.

Additionally, while the ‘Faller Observer Survey’ did not indicate a strong preference to dispense with the mandatory observer policy, there was sufficient feedback to drive a re-structure and add some flexibility into the policy. This has resulted in the proposal below, which aims to (1) increase the focus on qualifications, and (2) allow a principal Contractor to determine when the risk would be such to permit a Certified L4 tree feller to work alone.

Managing Risk – 3 New Rules Proposed!

  1. From the 1st of January 2019, manual tree felling shall only occur when a Safetree Certified L4 tree feller (CL4) is on the felling face – either felling, supervising or training.

  2. A level 4 tree feller shall be available to the CL4 tree feller at all times – but is only required to assist/observe when the CL4 tree feller is felling difficult trees, felling in hazardous areas, or when carrying out an unplanned multiple tree drive (or unsuccessful one-onto-two tree drive).

  3. Any Contractor wishing to allow a CL4 tree feller to work alone shall first prepare a Felling Risk Assessment Process (FRAP).

NOTES: A FRAP would be similar in design to the process used currently to manage and control breaking-out in harvesting – see ACOP 12.2.22 – including that the FRAP must be first approved (agreed to) by the required Company representatives. These 3 rules, along with supporting information, are currently out for consultation and will be finalised shortly.

View this article in Safety Bulletin 119