Workplace Health and Safety Queensland recently issued a safety alert highlighting the risks associated with tree felling, following an incident in which a self-employed timber cutter died on a property from head injuries sustained after a branch fell on him.
The timber cutter was working alone on a private property felling hardwood trees, and in the process of felling a tree, the falling tree had weakened a branch on a neighbouring tree. While the timber feller was cutting up the felled tree, the weakened branch fell on him.
He was not wearing a hard hat, ear muffs or gloves. He was not found until the alarm was raised when he did not return from work that evening.
Before commencing forest harvesting or felling timber, Queensland’s Work Health and Safety Act 2011 requires the person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) to assess the conditions likely to affect the health and safety of people employed to carry out the work and themselves, and arrange for the provision and use of appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).
Dependent on the task, equipment and conditions in the forest, the PPE may include safety helmets, leg protection, safety gloves, protective footwear and eye protection.
In addition, when working remotely or in isolation, PCBUs and workers need to ensure there is an effective system of communication for remote or isolated work. Section 48 of the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 requires a PCBU to manage risks to the health and safety of a worker associated with remote or isolated work. Workers should notify someone about where they are going and what time they are expecting to return.