A 39-year-old tree faller with 10 years experience suffered a fractured shoulder and four broken ribs when a limb torn from a tree beside the one he was felling hit him across the shoulder.


The tree faller was felling a row of 40-year-old radiata pine on a farmer’s block. The tops of some of the trees were entangled. He failed to observe that a branch from the tree beside the one he was felling was in front of that tree.

When the tree began to fall, he moved approximately 4 m behind the tree to what he thought was a safe place. As the tree fell, it broke off the branch and it hit the tree faller’s shoulder.

[image] Shows branch breaking against another tree and hitting tree faller on the head


The investigation determined that the accident was caused by:

  • a poor tree assessment
  • not moving a sufficient safe distance from a falling tree
  • not looking up as the tree fell.

WorkSafe New Zealand advice

  • Before felling commences, a careful check shall be made to discover if there are any branches which, if dislodged, could cause injury to persons working in the area.
  • An escape route should be prepared and used as necessary.

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

  • Forestry

Published: July 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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