Splinter lodges in tree spacer’s arm

Safety Alert Type: 
New Zealand
Date of Incident / Close Call: 
Company Name: 
Rayonier matariki Forests
Details of Incident / Close Call: 

As a tree spacer (also known as Thinning to Waste Operator in New Zealand) moved between trees his foot slipped on pine needles, down a small drop off (60cm).

While falling forward and trying to regain his balance, his left arm hit a small branch he had just trimmed. The branch pierced his skin and a large splinter (approximately 40mm long by 7mm wide and 2 mm thick) broke off and lodged in his forearm.

The worker received medical treatment to remove the splinter and returned to work the following day .

Ground conditions as a contributing factor:

  • Small drop off concealed by pine needles
  • Dry conditions combined with rolling to steep terrain contributed to slippery under foot conditions
  • Visibility of surrounding area slightly affected while moving and cutting through undergrowth


Learnings and Suggestions: 
  • Watch foot placement and be aware of your surroundings.

What worked well during this incident?

  • The crewalways had radio communication with each other and responded to the call for help quickly
  • The worker was working near an experienced tree spacer
  • The injured worker, with only 3 months’ tree thinning experience, followed proper emergency procedure
  • The crew did well to transport the injured worker to the hospital quickly and efficiently.


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