Remember the ‘two tree-length rule’

A 55-year-old logger was seriously injured when struck by a section of a falling tree.

Circumstances

The worker was helping during the break-out phase of a logging operation. Edge trees were being felled by pushing them with a skidder after they were scarfed and back-cut.

Thinking he would be safe, the worker stood to the rear of the skidder.

As the skidder operator pushed the trees, one small tree fell away from the intended direction over the skidder canopy. The top section broke on impact and struck the worker standing at the rear of the skidder.

[image] Shows the angle of the tree falling on the skidder

Investigation

The investigation determined that the accident was caused by:

  • the operator because he failed to ensure that other workers were in a safe position at least two treelengths away before pushing the trees
  • the worker because he positioned himself within two tree-lengths of the trees being felled.

WorkSafe New Zealand advice

Section 18.9 of the Logging Code applies. Rules as stated in the: Approved Code of Practice for Safety and Health in Forest Operations

14: Rules for tree felling

3. SAFETY AREAS

Rule

1. Tree fallers shall ensure that no:

  • other person
  • machine
  • operating ropes
  • other operations

is/are within two tree-lengths of the tree being felled.

2. No person shall be closer than two tree-lengths to a tree being felled, unless:

  • assisting with felling
  • supervising
  • training others
  • being trained.

To which industries/sectors or matters will this information be relevant?

  • Forestry
  • Mobile plant

Published: December 2010. Updated August 2017.

While this bulletin has not been updated to reflect current work health and safety legislation (the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 and regulations), it may still contain relevant information and practices to keep workers and others healthy and safe. Please read this guidance in conjunction with all relevant industry standards that apply to you as a PCBU. This guidance will be progressively reviewed and either updated, replaced with other guidance, or revoked.

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