Trees contacting high voltage lines while operating feller-buncher

Safety Alert Type: 
Mechanical Tree Falling
Vancouver Island
Date of Incident / Close Call: 
Company Name: 
Mosaic Forest Management
Details of Incident / Close Call: 

Mosaic has had 2 incidents so far this year where a fellerbuncher working adjacent to a powerline has caused a tree to fall and strike the line. There were no injuries in either incident, and the support systems were in place, with a Certified Utility Arborist (CUA) onsite, and a certificate of no reclose taken out on the line, to react safely to the incidents.

However the potential for serious injury is high anytime there is contact with a powerline.
In both of these cases the tree that contacted the line was relatively small and the operator was not fully following the safe work procedures.

Working adjacent to high voltage lines puts the operator in an upset condition. This work is often carried out by fellerbuncher operators who are used to working on their own but now have someone or multiple people watching what they are doing. This places additional pressure on the operator and increases their desire to complete that part of the job as quickly as possible to get back to their regular work.

Despite an on-site review with the utility provider, additional hazards or operationally difficult areas to work in may not be identified in the planning process. This puts the onus on the operators to recognize when to stop and request assistance from the CUA. 

Learnings and Suggestions: 

Despite significant focus and planning for working around high voltage lines, we continue to have incidents of trees and machines contacting lines. The following are preventative actions that should take place prior to and when working adjacent to powerlines:

  • Review entire work area with the utility owner and get their sign-off of the plan
  • Have a certified utility arborist (CUA) take out a certificate of no reclose on the line and communicate with the utility owner on the work plan
  • Immediately prior to starting work thoroughly walk the work area with the CUA and machine operator/faller and determine a detailed work plan. This would include areas where machine assistance is needed and to identify challenging trees or locations.


For more information on this submitted alert: 

Tammie Wheeler, Safety Coordinator Tammie.Wheeler@MosaicForests.com


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