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Logger dies after a log skidder rolled downhill and struck him as he was felling a tree.

Wisconsin Department of Health & Family Services
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 97WI110, 1999 Jun; :1-4
On December 11, 1997, a 37-year-old male logger (the victim) died after being struck by a log skidder. The victim and a co-worker were felling trees in separate work areas and hauling them to the landing with skidders. The victim used a log skidder he had purchased from another logger about 4 years before the incident. The skidder in this incident was over 20 years old, and had originally been equipped with a mechanical brake system. At some unknown time, the mechanical brake was replaced by a micro lock brake system. Throughout the morning, the victim and co-worker were in voice contact and shared a lunch break near the landing site. Around 3:30, the victim was felling trees on a slope with a 20% grade. He parked the skidder about 20 feet uphill in line with the tree he was felling. He engaged the micro lock system, kept the motor running, and positioned the blade near the ground. The skidder wheels were not blocked by any object, nor was the blade hooked over a stump to prevent the machine from rolling backwards. He apparently stood near the tree, facing downhill with his back to the skidder, and began a wedge cut with his chain saw. The incident was unwitnessed, but apparently the brakes failed and the skidder rolled downhill, striking the victim with the left rear wheel and crushing him against the tree. The co-worker heard the victim's cries for help and ran to the scene. After seeing the victim injured on the ground, the co-worker ran to his own truck. He tried to use his CB radio to call for help, but it didn't work. The co-worker drove his own skidder to where the victim was lying, and placed him in the skidder. He drove the skidder to his truck, carried the victim to the truck's passenger seat, then drove almost 15 miles to the hospital. The victim was taken to surgery, then transferred to intensive care where he died about eight hours after the incident. Sheriff's and coroner authorities were notified. The skidder motor was still running when the sheriff's deputies arrived the next morning. They turned it off and secured the area, then called OSHA. The FACE investigator concluded that, to prevent similar occurrences, employers should: 1. Obtain and follow log skidder manufacturers' recommendations before using modified equipment. 2. Develop and enforce a safety policy that requires loggers to block a log skidder parked on a grade. 3. Provide personal communication devices to workers in isolated worksites.
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; Logging-workers; Equipment-operators; Safety-programs; Equipment-reliability
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-97WI110; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-CCU-507081
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
Wisconsin Department of Health & Family Services
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division