Feller Struck by Tree Limb While Felling Adjacent Tree - North Carolina

NIOSH FACE Report 2015-03
April 12, 2018


On December 2, 2014, a 61-year-old Hispanic feller was struck by a tree limb while felling an adjacent tree and died the next day. The feller dropped a pine tree that caught an adjacent poplar limb on the way down. The poplar limb broke off the standing tree, fell butt first, and struck the feller on the head. Two of the three coworkers saw the incident happen. A contracted mechanic working on the skidder called 911. The emergency crews arrived 20 to 30 minutes later and transported the conscious feller to the hospital where he died.


Key contributing factors identified in this investigation include:

  • Swing cutting
  • Insufficient hinge wood
  • Cluttered work area
  • Wind speed and direction


NIOSH investigators concluded that, to help prevent similar occurrences, employers should:

  • Develop, implement, and enforce a tree harvesting fall plan.
  • Ensure that tree fellers use proper directional felling techniques that are based on the tree harvesting fall plan.
  • Develop procedures and train fellers on tree assessment, opening the felling face, and identifying, creating, and maintaining clear retreat paths
  • Develop, implement, and enforce a written safety program that includes, but is not limited to, training in hazard identification, avoidance, and abatement


Feller Struck by Tree Limb While Felling Adjacent Tree—North Carolina pdf icon[PDF 1,349KB]


The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), an institute within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is the federal agency responsible for conducting research and making recommendations for the prevention of work-related injury and illness. In 1982, NIOSH initiated the Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program. FACE examines the circumstances of targeted causes of traumatic occupational fatalities so that safety professionals, researchers, employers, trainers, and workers can learn from these incidents. The primary goal of these investigations is for NIOSH to make recommendations to prevent similar occurrences. These NIOSH investigations are intended to reduce or prevent occupational deaths and are completely separate from the rulemaking, enforcement and inspection activities of any other federal or state agency. Under the FACE program, NIOSH investigators interview persons with knowledge of the incident and review available records to develop a description of the conditions and circumstances leading to the deaths in order to provide a context for the agency’s recommendations. The NIOSH summary of these conditions and circumstances in its reports is not intended as a legal statement of facts. This summary, as well as the conclusions and recommendations made by NIOSH, should not be used for the purpose of litigation or the adjudication of any claim. For further information, visit the program website at www.cdc.gov/niosh/face/ or call toll free at 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636).

Page last reviewed: April 17, 2018