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.


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


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


  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.


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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