Trimming and Felling Precautions

Before you begin to cut, you must determine your escape area. This is the area you will go to immediately after the back cut has been made and the tree is beginning to fall. To locate the escape areas, you must first determine the danger zones. Two danger zones can be identified and must be avoided to prevent serious injury or death. The first danger zone is located in a semi-circle, from half the diameter of the tree toward the direction of the fall. The second danger zone is one-quarter of the diameter of the tree and located in the opposite direction of the intended fall. Fellers MUST avoid these two danger zones. The escape areas are then located between the danger zones. Always retreat to one of these areas as the tree is beginning to fall.
  • Use control lines on trees, to direct their fall in the intended direction.
  • When felling, keep a distance of at least twice the length of the tree between the tree and people. 
  • Have a co-worker assist in controlling movement of falling branches. 
  • Stay at least 10 feet away from power lines.  
  • Use an observer to watch out for power lines. 
  • Safety observer should wear protective clothing.
  • All workers and observers should wear hardhat, goggles, hearing protection, fluorescent vest, cut-resistant trousers, and safety boots. 

To safely fell a tree, you must be trained how to:

When a tree must be removed, there are several things to consider before cutting. 1. Ensure coworkers and all others maintain a two-tree length distance. If the tree is going to fall downhill, increase the distance depending on the slope. 2. Look for any fences, buildings or power lines and avoid felling toward them. 3. Work only in good weather. Never work in strong winds, lightning, rain or any time when visibility is low.
Inspect the tree: Is the tree leaning in one direction? This will play a major role in the direction the tree will fall. Check the trunk (where the cuts are going to be made) for knot holes, cracks or signs of rot that could hinder the felling operation. Ensure the tree has no interlocking branches or vines from another tree. If it does, they must be separated prior to felling.

Also, survey the crown of the tree for any material that may break loose as the tree falls. Trim any low branches that are in your way.
  • Figure out the best felling direction.
  • Plan, clear and use an escape path.
  • Figure out the proper hinge size.
  • Use proper controlled felling techniques.
  • Maintain safe separation distances from other workers and machines.
  • Wear required PPE.

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