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Sawmill foreman dies of injuries after legs were severed by a saw blade.

Minnesota Department of Health
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 95MN005, 1995 Jun; :1-6
A 34-year-old male sawmill foreman (victim) died of injuries sustained after his legs were severed by a saw blade. The incident occurred at the location of a log home manufacturing facility while the victim and three co-workers performed a non-routine timber saw maintenance operation. The timber saw consisted of a four-foot diameter saw blade and a metal carriage used to hold and transport logs during the sawing operation. The carriage movement was controlled by a continuous cable system driven by a horizontal rotating drum located slightly forward of the saw blade. Drum rotation moved the carriage forward or backward along the carriage track-way. On the day of the incident, the cable had shifted laterally off of the drum (travelled) during it's use which required maintenance to re-install the cable. The procedure for cable re-installation required manual rotation of the saw blade while the drum transmission mechanism was activated. This allowed the drum to be rotated while the cable was guided back onto it. The victim and co-workers de-energized the saw and locked-out the main electrical power switch. The workers attempted to install the cable by turning the saw blade until the victim decided to reactivate power to the saw. The lock was removed from the main power switch, the electric motor started, and the drum transmission engaged allowing the drum to rotate. The victim positioned himself in the center of the carriage track-way and proceeded to guide the cable onto the drum. When the final portion of loose cable wrapped onto the drum, cable tension was re-established causing the drum to pull the carriage down the track-way towards the victim and saw blade. The victim attempted to move out of the carriage path but was contacted by the carriage which pushed the victim through the saw resulting in the amputation of the victim's legs. MN FACE investigators concluded that to reduce the likelihood of a similar incident, the following activities should be performed: 1. prevent the carriage cable from travelling off of the drum; 2. develop and enforce performance of approved maintenance and lock-out/tag-out procedures for cable re-installation; 3. design the saw blade and cable drum to operate independently; and 4. install emergency shut-off switches at locations where personnel may be expected to work or perform routine maintenance.
Region-5; Accident-analysis; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Traumatic-injuries; Work-operations; Work-analysis; Work-areas; Work-performance; Work-practices; Safety-education; Safety-equipment; Safety-measures; Safety-monitoring; Protective-measures; Protective-equipment; Sawmill-workers; Machine-guarding; Machine-operation; Machine-operators
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
Funding Type
Cooperative Agreement
Fiscal Year
NTIS Accession No.
NTIS Price
Identifying No.
FACE-95MN005; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-CCU-507283
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
Minnesota Department of Health
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division