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Take care clearing fallen trees
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Take care clearing fallen trees

26 September 2013

The recent storms in Canterbury and the upper North Island have left a trail of fallen trees in their wake and residents are being warned to be very careful when clearing the debris.

The trees have fallen in residential areas and on farms and the Health and Safety group of the Ministry is urging those cleaning up to plan their work carefully and, ideally, to consult a forestry or arboriculture professional before beginning work.

“There’s real danger in clearing fallen trees and if you’re not experienced in working with trees, there are hazards you might not see before you fire up your chainsaw,” Francois Barton, National Manager of the group’s Safer Forest Harvesting Project said.

“Some of these damaged trees can be under enormous strain and cutting in the wrong place can release that pressure in unexpected and potentially dangerous ways.”

“If you’re clearing a stand of windthrown trees or areas of damaged trees on the ground, we recommend you consult a professional who can either give you advice on how to proceed or do the work for you,” Mr Barton said.

“The cost is far less than a serious injury if you do it yourself and do it wrong.”

There are some very important safety steps that should always be followed when working with fallen or windthrown trees:

  • keep children away from any windfall particularly when cutting begins
  • remember safety at all times—always use safety equipment such as footwear, leg protection, a helmet, eye protection and earmuffs.
  • make sure you have stable footing before cutting begins
  • have sufficient clear space to work
  • ensure you have an escape path cleared
  • ensure a clear communication system is in use for emergencies
  • work beside trees, and never work directly under them.


“There is plenty of advice available from the Health and Safety Group and we strongly recommend you take it on board,” Mr Barton said.

Advice is available at:


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