WorkSafe NZ urges Coasters to take care clearing fallen trees
The weekend’s storm on the South Island’s West Coast has left trail of destruction and fallen trees in its wake and Coasters are being warned to take care when clearing the debris.
Hundreds of trees came down in both residential areas and on farms. WorkSafe New Zealand is reminding those cleaning up to plan their work carefully and, ideally, to consult a forestry or arboriculture professional before beginning work.
“The scale of the clean-up facing people in some areas is huge. People will be working long hours under stressful conditions. It’s important that they remember to make safety their top priority,” said Dave Hulston, WorkSafe NZ’s Assessments Manager for the West Coast.
“Clearing fallen trees is dangerous work, particularly if you’re not experienced in working with trees. There are many potential hazards you might not see before firing up your chainsaw.”
“Some of these damaged trees will 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 wind-thrown 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 Hulston said.
“The cost is far less than a serious injury if you do it yourself and get it wrong.”
There are some very important safety steps that should always be followed when working with fallen or wind-thrown 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 WorkSafe NZ and we strongly recommend Coasters take it on board,” Mr Hulston said.
Advice is available at:
- The approved code of practice for safety and health in forest operations
- A guide to safety with chainsaws
- WorkSafe NZ’s best practice guide for safe manual tree felling