A Supervisor Dies When He is Decapitated by a Rope That Was Pulled Into a Wood Chipper
California Case Report: 12CA001
Release Date: October 22, 2012
A supervisor for a land clearing company died when he was decapitated by a rope that was pulled into a wood chipper. A work crew was clearing overgrown trees and brush from the perimeter of a home. A bundle of cut brush was cinched together with a rope and pulled up to a wood chipper by a co-worker. The rope used to cinch the brush into a bundle was not removed prior to the bundle being fed into the wood chipper. One end of the rope caught in the drum of the wood chipper and became taut, tangled around the victim, and pulled him onto the wood chipper feed table. The victim was then decapitated by the rope. Factors that may contribute to worker death when operating a wood chipper include feeding brush or branches which contain foreign objects into the chipper, and work procedures that required the use of a rope that present an entanglement hazard at the point of operation of the chipper. The CA/FACE investigator determined that, in order to prevent future incidents, land clearing companies that use wood chippers should:
- Ensure that cut tree branches are placed in piles and checked for unwanted objects before being fed into wood chippers.
- Assign a co-worker as a safety watch whenever cut tree branches are being fed into a wood chipper.