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A 23-Year-Old Worker Pulled into a Wood Chipper on His First Day on the Job, New York

New York Case Report: 16NY024


At 1:15 p.m. on May 4, 2016, a 23-year-old laborer (victim) hired by a tree service contractor (employer) was pulled into a wood chipper on his first day on the job. The victim, who had never done any tree work before, was hired by the employer to assist ground work at three residential job sites. All three jobs involved cutting down trees and chipping the cuttings with the wood chipper. At the first site, the employer demonstrated to the victim how to feed the branches into the chipper and how to turn the machine of. He also showed the victim how the feed control bar and the “last chance cables” worked. The employer instructed the victim not to feed the chipper when the feed wheels were engaged. However, he also told the victim that he could feed the chipper when the experienced workers were nearby or next to the machine. The work scene at the second job site was captured by a surveillance video camera on the property. The images showed that the victim was feeding the chipper when the feed wheels were engaged, leaning down and reaching into the chipper, and pushing small debris into the chipper with his hands. The incident occurred at the third job site. No one saw the instant when the victim was pulled into the chipper. The employer stated that he saw the victim right before the incident. The victim was standing by the chipper and “there was nothing to pick up and put in the chipper”. Less than a minute later, he heard the chipper making a “weird noise”. He turned and saw the victim’s feet sticking out of the chipper. The employer rushed to the chipper and turned it of before calling 911. The EMS and police arrived within minutes and the victim was pronounced dead at the scene. The wood chipper was examined by the manufacturer 12 days after the incident. The examination did not find any deficiency or malfunctioning parts on the chipper that might have contributed to the incident.

A 23-Year-Old Worker Pulled into a Wood Chipper on His First Day on the Job – New York [PDF 1885 KB]