A recent news story from New Zealand caught our attention the other day, to our great sadness. In March of 2013, Foreman and part owner of Complete Logging Limited Major Nelson was performing a tree-felling job with co-worker Robert Ruri-Epapara. Major Nelson was climbing and trimming while Robert Ruri-Epapara was doing ground work below. Reportedly, Nelson was unaware of his co-worker’s location on the ground as he was felling large branches. Unfortunately, Ruri-Epapara happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time as one of these branches fell on top of him, killing him on impact.
We cannot stress enough how important it is to use safety measures on ALL aspects of tree care. As blue-moon as these types of situations appear, they can happen, and (at the risk of sounding cliche) it’s better to be safe than sorry. The article mentions that Nelson was found guilty of not conducting tree felling within the ‘two tree length rule’, being that the climbing arborist should not begin falling trees unless everyone is a distance of two tree lengths away. I have never heard of this trick, but it definitely sounds wise to follow.
The county of New Zealand also recently issued a statement that machines and guiding systems should be a primary way to guide branches and logs as they fall to ensure worker safety. Using a Winch or other method of tree fall guiding is a recommended work practice. The picture above shows one of many safe methods to bring down a tree.