Winches in directional felling

What you need to know

This page covers the safe working practices for using either a tractor winch or hand winch as an aid to directional felling and assisted takedown in forestry and tree work.

The guidance here does not apply to the use of machines or winches for any form of timber extraction, nor for towing vehicles or other equipment, see Machine-assisted takedown.

This case study shows what happens if people do not stand in a safe working position during a winching operation.

What you need to do

Before starting work, agree a clear and comprehensive communication system. The chainsaw operator must be in control and give appropriate instructions to the machine operator. An emergency stop signal must immediately be obeyed by everyone. Any unclear signal should be regarded as a stop signal.

If the chainsaw operator cannot see the machine operator, another method, such as a radio, or a third person to relay the message, must be used All operators must receive appropriate training in:

  • How to operate the machine
  • How to do the tasks required
  • Use of personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • How to keep the machine in good working order.

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