Tree Trimmer Working in Tree Died When a Tree Branch Supporting Rigging Rope Broke Below the Crotch and Struck His Head, Michigan
Michigan Case Report: 09MI163
Report Date: 7/19/2012
In the fall of 2009, a male self-employed tree trimmer in his 50s died while he was removing a dead tree from a residential yard. The decedent was working approximately 30 to 40 feet above ground removing branches using a saddle belt, safety rope, and branch (natural) crotch rigging with a 3/4-inch rope. He was injured when a tree branch that had been used to support a rigging rope broke below the crotch and struck his head. The force of the blow from the falling branch rendered the decedent unconscious and knocked him from the tree. Emergency responders arrived three minutes after the call for assistance. The decedent hung from his safety harness for approximately eight minutes until emergency responders were able to support his body using a utility bucket truck. The emergency responders placed him on a backboard and then lowered him to the ground via the fire department ladder truck. He was driven by ambulance to a staging area and flown by helicopter to a nearby hospital where he died from his injuries two days later.
Factors that may have contributed to this fatal injury include:
- Tree branch anchoring point did not hold the decedent’s weight.
- Rigging method did not support the branch removal activity.
- Decedent’s head was not protected from falling objects.
- Ground worker inexperience in rigging methods.