Morgantown, WV: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, FACE 98-09, 1998 Jun; :1-10
A 52-year-old male tree feller (the victim) was fatally injured after being struck in the right thigh with a chain saw. Prior to the incident, the victim and his son had been harvesting hardwood trees for saw timber, over a period of approximately 5 months, on a 49-acre site. At the time of the incident, the victim's son was away from the cutting area, skidding logs to the landing. No one witnessed the incident, but evidence suggests the following scenario: The victim cut a forked hickory tree that fell and lodged in a yellow polar. He then positioned himself between the lodged tree and a sycamore tree and notched the sycamore to fall into the lodged hickory. Before he had time to cut the sycamore, the top of the poplar snapped, freeing the hickory. The trunk or branch of the hickory struck the victim on the back of the head. The blow caused him to fall and stumble forward with his hand gripped around the handle of the running chain saw. The chain saw struck the inside of the victim's unprotected right thigh, causing fatal injury. When the son returned to skid more logs he found the victim lying on the ground, unresponsive. He checked for vital signs, found none, and went to the land- owner's home to call for help. He and the landowner returned to the site, checked the victim for vital signs and found none. Fire department emergency service personnel arrived on the scene within 10 to 12 minutes after hearing the call on the scanner, checked the victim, and ran an electrocardiogram which showed no activity. They communicated their finding to the county coroner who authorized transport of the victim by ambulance to his office, where the victim was officially pronounced dead. NIOSH investigators concluded that, in order to prevent similar occurrences, employers, including the self-employed, should: Develop, implement, and enforce a written safety program which includes, but is not limited to, worker training in hazard identification, avoidance, and abatement. Ensure that tree fellers properly evaluate the area around timber to be felled, so that potential hazards can be identified and appropriate control measures implemented. Ensure that tree fellers dislodge trees according to safe methods specified in the OSHA logging standard. Ensure that tree fellers follow safe operating procedures for the use of chain saws. Provide and enforce the use of personal protective equipment. Provide first aid equipment at job sites and pertinent training in the use of first aid equipment.