Tree felling safety
A number of dangers are inherent in felling trees. Safely felling trees requires an evaluation of the surrounding areas to identify potential hazards. Below, OSHA identifies some of the more common hazards and offers tips on how to eliminate them.
Throwback. As a tree falls through other trees and lands, branches and other objects may get thrown back toward the logger. To prevent this, avoid felling trees onto other trees or objects when possible. Do not turn your back on the tree as it falls, and look up as you escape along the retreat path.
Terrain. Hazardous conditions can be created when a tree is felled onto stumps, rocks or uneven ground. If possible, move obstacles in the way of the falling tree or change the felling direction.
Lodged tree. Trees do not always fall all the way to the ground, and instead become stuck or lean against a neighboring tree. Do not work near these trees. Have them pushed or pulled down by a machine.
Widowmaker. This refers to broken limbs hanging freely in the tree to be felled or in other trees nearby. Knock down all of these branches or pull them down with a machine before beginning work. Never work underneath them.
Snag. This term refers to a standing dead, rotting or broken tree positioned near the tree to be felled. Use a machine to bring these trees down before beginning work. It must be felled or avoided by at least two tree lengths.
Spring pole. This is a tree, limb or sapling that is under tension due to the weight of another tree or object. Use a machine or chain saw to release the tension before beginning work in the area.
Extreme weather. Do not fell trees during high winds.
Entanglement. Vines or limbs of other trees may be entwined with the tree to be felled. Undo the entanglement, if possible, or use a machine to fell the tree.
Resources. Other workers or machines may be present in the immediate area. Request that all workers and machines be removed prior to felling.