Camper dies after being hit by falling tree branch

WorkSafe is issuing an alert to holiday camping and caravan park owners to control the risk of falling trees and branches.
Safety alert published

Friday 26 Mar 2021

Industries and topics
  • Agriculture
  • Sport and recreation

Background

A camper at a holiday park died when a branch fell on his tent. The man had set up camp in his allocated camping spot, locating his tent under a tree canopy. A large branch fell on his tent in the night as he was sleeping.

Safety issues

All trees pose some level of risk of falling branches or trunks. Large trees with high potential for failure in populated areas pose the highest level of risk.

Signs to deter people from camping under potentially dangerous trees should not be relied upon as the only means of reducing the risk associated with falling trees or branches.

Recommended ways to control risks

To reduce the risks to safety from falling trees or branches, employers and self-employed persons should:

  • conduct a regular site inspection of all trees, especially after significant wind events
  • engage a suitably qualified expert on a regular basis to assess the trees on the campsite and provide a report on any at-risk trees or branches which need removing
  • appoint someone to monitor weather forecasts
  • exclude activities in the fall zone of trees that present an unacceptable level of risk

Legal duties

Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004, employers must:

  • so far as is reasonably practicable, provide and maintain a working environment that is safe and without risks to the health of employees and independent contractors
  • ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that people other than employees are not exposed to risks to their health or safety arising from the employer's undertaking

In addition, self-employed persons must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons are not exposed to risks to their health or safety arising from the self-employed person’s undertaking.