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Working on Steep Ground


Steep ground working
The aim of this course is to provide those attending with the practical skills and theoretical information needed in order to work safely on inclined embankments up to 40 degrees to undertake de-vegetation and maintenance work. The training will also cover the techniques required for safe working in proximity to unguarded retaining walls, bridge heads and open culverts.

Part 1, will cover: legislation, how to use personal fall protection equipment (PFPE) to achieve a safe system of work. During training each delegate will be taught how to fit and adjust their harness and lanyard correctly.

Part 2, Practical elements: This will include, Inspection of PFPE and its use in work restraint systems, selection of suitable anchor points, and use of temporary horizontal lifelines and belay systems.

The requirement for rescue planning and the safe recovery of a casualty.
The course does not include instruction on
suspended working techniques.

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
Risk assessment
Managing the work
Planning the work

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

The soil condition
Moisture content
Underlying material
The terrain e.g. slope measurements, soil/ground condition, ground roughness, erodable soils, boulders
Size and type of tree
Type of tree/brash quality
Cutting specification
Weather conditions
Water on site, possibility of flash floods
Alternative work areas
Recovery arrangements, including dealing with oil spills
The possibilities of modifying the site by constructing tracks or ramps.

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.
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:

Choosing which machine to use
Deciding who should use the machines
Deciding how to supervise the work and take account of changing conditions.

To work safely on steep ground, you need to think about the entire harvesting operation – not just the forwarder or harvester. Everyone involved in the work needs to be in regular contact with each other. Record how you plan to do this in your risk assessment and site safety rules.
Every operation will be different and you will need to assess the specific site and the weather conditions.
Everyone operating machinery on steep ground must receive the appropriate training and be competent to do this type of work.
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.

Course Code



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Course Ratio

12 : 1


1 Day

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