Multiple errors caused tree faller’s death

A 20 year old tree faller died while trying to drive more than one cut-up tree at once. He made a number of serious mistakes.

Circumstances

As shown in the drawing, the tree faller had scarfed tree numbers 2 to 6 cutting the scarf to half the diameter of the butt. He placed wing cuts on either side of the scarf.

The trees had already sat back before a holding wedge could be inserted. Judging from the 100-175 mm of holding wood, he intended to drive the trees against their natural lean.

The driving-tree, number 1 in the diagram, set the trees falling. Number 3, a heavy-leaning tree, fell back striking the worker, who was about 15 m from the butt.

[image] Shows the direction the trees fell

Investigation

The tree faller made at least five serious errors:

  • not clearing cut-up trees
  • over-scarfing trees
  • not using holding wedges
  • driving more than one tree at a time
  • not getting help when he was in difficulty.

WorkSafe New Zealand advice

Rules as stated in the: Approved Code of Practice for Safety and Health in Forest Operations

6. Tree driving

RULE

  1. Tree driving is not acceptable as a normal felling practice. In the interests of safety it may be used to help fell difficult or dangerous trees.
  2. The tree to be driven shall have a holding wedge inserted in the back-cut at the earliest opportunity and prior to any cut in the driving-tree.
  3. The maximum number of trees in a drive without an observer is two (ie one on to one).
  4. A competent person shall act as observer to warn on the movement of trees whenever an initial one-on-one drive is unsuccessful and a further tree is necessary.


Published: October 2010. Updated August 2017.

 

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