Death sparks training push
TASTAFE says it will be able to handle an influx of people requiring chainsaw training if a coroner has his way.
In response to the death of a 61-year-old man near Smithton in November last year, Coroner Simon Cooper has again recommended everyone who buys or uses a chainsaw must undertake training.
Mr Cooper also recommended all chainsaw operators must undergo regular practical reassessments, ideally every three years, and that nobody under the age of 16 be permitted to own or use one in any circumstances.
In November last year, Neil Robert Kingston died while felling trees on his property. He was struck on the head by a branch and died at the scene.
Mr Cooper said Mr Kingston was an experienced tree feller but had never under- taken training and was not wearing protective headgear.
“I am satisfied that Mr Kingston’s death directly resulted from poor tree-felling technique and his failure to wear appropriate personal protective equipment,” the coroner said.
He said Mr Kingston would have survived the incident had he been wearing a helmet.
Mr Cooper noted there had been 99 deaths resulting from chainsaw use and tree-felling nationwide between 2000 and 2016, with roughly a quarter of those in Tasmania.
He recommended all chainsaw operators undertake approved training before buying or using a chainsaw and that anyone selling chainsaws be an accredited chainsaw operator.
The bulk of training in operate chainsaws in Tasmania is done by TasTAFE. It provides chainsaw training in a number of qualifications and a short course on its own.
TasTAFE division manager for Drysdale, Creative Industries, Primary Industries and Science Maree Gerke said i528 students took a course in chainsaw operations in 2017, with monthly basic training courses held in Launceston and Burnie and six courses in Hobart.
She said if the coroner’s recommendation of compulsory training was implemented TasTAFE would be able to handle the increased demand.
“We have significant capacity to undertake this training in a range of workplace settings or on campuses across the state, and TasTAFE would work to accommodate any legislative changes if and when enacted,” she said.
In August Mr Cooper said six chainsaw-related deaths in Tasmania between 2013 and 2016 showed why all chainsaw operators should do approved training before buying or using a chainsaw.