Steep ground working

What you need to know

This page covers the safe working practices to be followed when harvesting and extracting trees on steep or difficult ground.

The ability to work safely on steep or difficult ground is dependent upon a number of factors other than the gradient of the slope. These are discussed below. For example, ground conditions can change quickly in bad weather and decisions on how to work safely may need to be modified to take into account changes in environmental conditions.

What you need to do

You must follow safe work practices and methods when harvesting and extracting trees on steep or difficult ground.

Planning the work

When planning how the work should be done on a specific site, you should consider:


All operators must receive appropriate training in:

Risk assessment

Your risk assessment will be similar to any conventional harvesting site. The increase in slope will mean that you need to plan carefully how the work will be done, including:

Managing the work

The forestry work manager (FWM) is responsible for deciding how the forestry operation will be done on site. Managers, contractors and operators must meet before the work starts to discuss the limits of any machinery they use.

Schedule regular reviews of how the work is being done and review again when circumstances change on site.

Operators should not change the planned system of work without agreement from the FWM. The FWM may need to visit the site more often for steep ground working, to supervise and monitor the work.

Keep records of pre-commencement meetings with the risk assessments, which should include details of the agreed frequency of site visits.

Keep records of site visits and review the risk assessment regularly.

Site safety rules should identify the person on site responsible for communications and give instructions on how the work should be done. They should also include details of any lone working arrangements and emergency procedures.