Worker death prompts guidance on tree felling safety

Monday, 05 August, 2019

Worker death prompts guidance on tree felling safety

WorkSafe Victoria is reminding workers of the importance of maintaining an exclusion zone and effective communication when felling trees and branches after a falling tree struck and killed a worker.

According to WorkSafe Victoria, the worker was helping a farmer cut down trees and create a burn pile when the incident occurred. The farmer had not seen the incident and found the worker inside the work zone.

To prevent similar incidents, WorkSafe Victoria advised that workers should stay outside the potential tree felling zone — at least 1.5 lengths away from the tree, or at least two crown widths from trees when broken limbs are visible — as these limbs can become projectiles, thrown from falling trees or bouncing off the ground when they fall.

Workers should always ensure they can be seen by machine operators or are within designated safe areas and use appropriate communication methods to ensure everyone’s safety and tree clearances.

All workers, bystanders and children must be kept away from the work area.

Workers should also be aware of employers’ obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act 2004 to provide and maintain a safe working environment, plant and other systems of work that are, so far as reasonably practicable, safe and without risks to employees and contractors.

Employers must also provide workers with the information, instruction, training or supervision necessary for them to perform their work in a way that is safe and without risks to health.

Extra obligations apply under the OHS Act 2004 and OHS Regulations 2017 when the work involves machinery and equipment.

WorkSafe Victoria’s plant compliance code provides a practical guide to help workers and employers understand their duties and obligations.

Image credit: © Ayala

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