A 27-year-old tree faller suffered a broken pelvis and back injuries when he was hit by a falling spar tree.


Two tree fallers working together were butting off and limbing windthrow trees.

One tree faller decided to fell a spar tree by placing a small cut in the intended direction of fall and then following up with a back cut, leaving no holding wood. The tree fell sideways, striking the other tree faller who was trimming a tree five metres away.

[image] Shows the angle of the falling tree


The investigation determined that the tree faller breached the ‘two tree-length’ rule.

WorkSafe New Zealand advice

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

Safety areas


1. Fellers 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

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.

Media contact details

For more information you can contact our Media Team using our media request form. Alternatively, you can:

Phone: 021 823 007 or

Email: media@worksafe.govt.nz