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Excavator killed using skid-steer loader and tree shear attachment.

Iowa Department of Public 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 01IA042, 2002 Jun; :1-5
In the winter of 2001, a 25-year-old self-employed tree excavator was fatally injured while using a skid-steer loader equipped with a tree shear attachment. He was working on a hillside, clearing land of small trees. While cutting a large branch of a tree, the weight of the falling branch tipped the loader forward on top of the tree stump, pinning him against the seat. The hydraulic shear had two horizontal blades that came together to cut trees up to 14 inches (35 cm) in diameter. The trunk of the tree was about 28 inches (70 cm) in diameter at the base, larger than the capacity of the shear. It branched out about three feet (1 m) above ground into three smaller limbs. He had cut branches from the sides and was finishing cutting the last branch, with his loader on the uphill side, facing directly downhill. The attachment was raised up to approximately 4 foot (1.2 m) height, where the branches fanned out. When he finished the cut, and while it was falling downhill, it momentarily transferred enough weight to the front of the shear that it tipped the skid-steer loader forward. The loader landed nearly upside down on top of the stump, which entered the cab area and crushed the operator against the back of his seat. The man was killed instantly. When rescue arrived, the machine could not be started, and airbags and a winch were needed to move the loader. Recommendations based on our investigation are as follows: 1. Skid-steer loaders and their attachments should be used as recommended by manufacturers, not exceeding their capacity. 2. Machines using tree shear attachments should have a barrier on all sides of the operator station to protect from tree limbs and other objects. 3. Manufacturers of tree shears and similar attachments should warn operators about using the attachments in a raised position, and working on sloping ground.
Region-7; 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; Equipment-design; Equipment-operators; Equipment-reliability; Machine-guarding; Machine-operation; Machine-operators; Agricultural-industry; Agricultural-machinery; Agricultural-workers; Agriculture
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-01IA042; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-CCU-708674
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
Iowa Department of Public Health
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division