Loss of control in directional felling

Date of incident


Location of incident

Vancouver BC Canada

Age of impacted party



Property damage

Type of incident

Tree failure

Type of equipment involved


Action taken

No action taken

Involvement of contributor



Sunny/mostly sunny

Causes of the incident

Unaware of surroundings

Description of incident

1.While conducting directional felling of black cottonwood with mechanical assistance (excavator), a rope installed at approximately 50% of the tree's height was secured to a port-a-wrap on the bucket of the excavator. 2.An undercut was placed in the tree in the direction of the intended lay, and the backcut was commenced with the rope pre-tensioned by the excavator. 3.While nearing completion of the backcut, it was apparent that the tree kerf was opening on the side of the stump. Direction was given to the excavator to pull, but control was already lost due to hinge failure. The tree went 90 degrees to the low-side off intended lay and struck a fence as well as other property items at occupied housing.

Contributing factors

-Rushing -Falling whole tree within 2 tree lengths of occupied buildings -Species profile/fiber weakness -Prioritize lay rather than mitigate by changing direction/position of excavator -Overconfident in capabilities of machinery

Incident review and preventative measures

Take extra precautions where species profile, proximity to buildings, and potential for unanticipated loads and leans exist. Climb and remove weight and extension prior to felling trees with those conditions. Prioritize the safest fell, not the most expedient cleanup.

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