OHS Code Explanation Guide

Published Date: July 01, 2009
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Part 34 Forestry

Section 518 Felling and bucking

Felling is the activity of cutting a standing tree and having it fall to the ground. Bucking is the cutting of a fallen tree into specific lengths. Limbing is the activity of cutting limbs or branches from a tree trunk.

A falling tree must never be allowed to strike a worker. Enough space needs to be provided so that workers can easily get out of the way when a tree falls. Workers not directly involved in cutting down a particular tree must keep a safe distance away – at least twice the distance of the height of the tallest tree in the area where cutting is taking place (see Figure 34.1). This safe distance may be greater in cases where a self-propelled mechanized feller is used. The feller manufacturer’s instructions usually specify a minimum distance of 100 metres.

Figure 34.1 Workers must remain at least two tree-lengths apart from each other at all times

All branches and trees that could create a danger to a worker must be removed before a particular tree is cut. A notch, ¼ to ⅓ of the tree’s diameter deep, must be made near the base of the tree. The undercut must be completely cleaned out.

Trees must fall in a planned direction and not break, slip or twist off the stump. Enough holding wood must be left between the undercut and backcut to control the line of fall (see Figure 34.2). Workers who fell trees by hand must use wedges to topple the tree in the correct direction (see Figure 34.3).

Figure 34.2 Undercut, holding wood, and backcut

Figure 34.3 Use of wedge

Before bucking a log, the worker must clear away all brush and other objects that could get caught in the chainsaw. Doing this reduces the likelihood of the chainsaw kicking back at the operator.

Employers must protect workers from trees that may move while being cut. Workers must not work on hillsides directly below a faller where there is a danger of trees or logs striking them. When working on inclines or hillsides, a worker must stand on the uphill side to prevent being hit by a moving tree or log.

It is important that buckers determine where the tension is in a tree they are about to buck. Doing so ensures that the tree does not spring up and towards workers once the tension is released (see Figure 34.4).

Figure 34.4 Trees in compression and tension