Timber! How contracting is felling old ways

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Steven Meyen

Steven Meyen

The forest industry in Ireland has evolved in recent years to a situation where contracting is the norm. There may now be many links in the chain between 'forest owner' and 'forest worker'.

Whether you are a timber grower or purchaser, contractor or subcontractor (operator), you have legal duties to fulfil in order to ensure that people's safety and health is not put at risk during, or as a result of, forestry operations.

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The law requires that, during the planning and carrying out of forestry operations, a number of safety and health duties be fulfilled, including:

⬤ Preparing written risk assessments;

⬤ Selecting suitable equipment for the job;

⬤ Protecting public safety and health;

⬤ Setting out safe working procedures;

⬤ Ensuring operators are competent;

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⬤ Supervising and monitoring the work.

Depending on the contractual relationship, different role-holders may share duties. To successfully manage safety and health, you need to co-ordinate your activities with others and pass information up and down the contract chain.

To help this flow of information and to ensure that the right people carry out the right tasks, the Code of Practice for Managing Safety and Health in Forestry Operations sets out four management roles.

These roles, which are not an attempt to describe the actual contractual relation in forestry contracts, are listed and detailed in the table below.

Within any forestry contract you need to identify which of these roles falls to you and carry out the appropriate tasks. Depending on how the contracts are organised for a particular work-site, you may pick up more than one role.

Within each role, the effort demanded by a particular task depends on the complexity and extent of the risks involved. The greater the risks, the greater the effort needed.

What personal protective equipment to use when using a chain saw

Farmers who wish to use a chain saw for such tasks as clearing fallen branches and pruning trees to maintain clearance for machines on their land may not need to complete full certified chain saw training but would be strongly advised to do so.

To protect against serious life-threatening injuries, it is very important that suitable protective clothing and equipment is worn when using a chain saw, no matter how small the job. Modern personal protective equipment (PPE) is easy to wear, long lasting and could prevent death or serious long-term injury.

However PPE cannot provide complete protection against cuts from chain saws. Using chain saws also exposes operators to high levels of noise and hand/arm vibration which can lead to hearing loss and conditions such as vibration white finger.

Chain saw operators should refer to the manufacturer's handbook for safety instructions and advice.

The following safety equipment should be used:

⬤ Safety Helmet (to conform to EN 397), suitable eye protection (Visor to EN 1731 or safety glasses to EN 166) and ear defenders (EN 352);

⬤ Chain saw gloves with protective pad on the back of the left hand, leg protection incorporating clogging material (EN 381-7);

⬤ Safety boots with steel toecaps and a good grip (EN 381/345);

⬤ Non-snag close-fitting outer clothing;

⬤ Chainsaw trousers (EN 381-5);

⬤ No personal protective equipment can ensure 100pc protection against cutting by a hand-held chain saw. A first aid kit should be readily available, including large wound dressing.

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