A tree faller was struck by a rolling log as a drag was being extracted by a skidder.


While a drag of logs was being broken out, one log, slid on top of the other logs and slipped downhill. A worker who was felling a tree nearby was struck by the log and seriously injured. 

[image] Shows the swing angle of the logs dragged by the skidder


The investigation determined that there were two main reasons for the accident:

  1. At the breakout, the person in charge of the breakout should have realised that workers were operating within two tree-lengths of the person carrying out the felling. There was a lack of organisation and operations should have been stopped until the situation had been rectified.
  2. The tree faller should also have made sure that the breakingout operation was at least two tree-lengths away from the felling face.

WorkSafe New Zealand advice

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

If the ‘two tree-lengths’ rule had been followed there would have been no accident.

Sections 18.8 (fellers’ responsibilities) and 25 (breakout situation) refer.

3. Safety areas


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.

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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