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Hispanic logger struck and killed by a falling tree cut by a feller buncher machine - North Carolina.

NIOSH 2004 Dec; :1-10
On December 8, 2003, a 23-year-old Hispanic logger (the victim) was struck by a tree cut by a feller buncher machine. After using the feller buncher to make 2 cuts on a tree that was approximately 104 feet in height and approximately 36-inches in diameter, the operator turned to view the tree he had just cut. He observed the tree lying on top of the victim who had been assigned to work in the limbing area. The falling tree struck the victim in the cutting operations area. It is theorized that the victim had been approaching the feller buncher to communicate with the operator. The feller buncher operator ran to the foreman for assistance. When the foreman and the feller buncher operator returned, the foreman was unable to find any vital signs for the victim, and called 911 on his mobile phone. Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and police personnel responded to the scene. The victim was transported by ambulance to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead in the emergency room. NIOSH investigators concluded that, to help prevent similar occurrences, employers should: 1. ensure employees understand the importance of remaining a minimum distance of 300 feet from a high speed mechanical- felling operation and not approaching until the machine operator has acknowledged that it is safe to do so; 2. ensure equipment operators properly use the equipment they are assigned to operate in accordance with manufacturers' operational guidelines; 3. ensure that workers are provided with a means of communication on the logging site; 4. develop a pre-job safety plan for the cutting site which includes hazard recognition and avoidance of unsafe conditions and ensure that it is implemented and reviewed with all workers prior to each day's cutting; and, 5. consider having employees wear high-visibility clothing while working on a logging site. Additionally, manufacturers should identify the cutting capacity of the feller buncher and include it on a machine label and in the operator's manual along with a warning to never double cut trees that are too large to fit into the felling head.
Region-4; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Traumatic-injuries; Lumber-industry; Lumber-industry-workers; Lumberjacks; Logging-workers; Forestry; Forestry-workers
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Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
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National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health