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Tree feller dies in West Virginia after being struck by boulder that rolled down hillside.

West Virginia Department of Health & Human 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 98WV028, 1998 Dec; :1-8
On June 26, 1998, a 34-year-old male tree feller (the victim) died of injuries sustained when he was struck in the head by a boulder which had rolled down from the hillside above. The victim was felling trees on terrain with a 70% slope. A bulldozer had constructed a skid road approximately 75 feet above the victim four to six hours earlier. There were no operations in process above the victim during the incident. Just prior to the incident, the victim had felled two trees and was in the process of limbing them. Two fellow workers who witnessed the incident reported that they spotted a large boulder three to four feet in diameter rolling down from an unknown origin. The workers yelled a warning to the victim but he was unable to hear them due to his running chainsaw and the hearing protection he was using. The boulder was airborne when it struck the victim in the head. The victim experienced a severe injury to the back of the head in spite of the hardhat he was wearing. One of the workers ran to the operation's landing site and notified the owner who then called the local EMS. A coworker administered first aid and CPR for approximately 30 minutes until exhausted, at which time the EMS arrived and pronounced the victim dead. The EMS transported the victim to a local hospital. The coroner estimated the time from injury to death to be minutes. The WV FACE Investigator concluded that, to reduce the likelihood of similar occurrences, employers should: 1. Ensure that tree fellers properly evaluate the area around timber to be felled so that potential hazards can be identified and avoided. 2. Ensure that dozer operators perform a post-operation visual inspection of sloped areas adjacent to newly constructed roads, especially future work areas downhill of disturbed areas, for the purpose of identifying and abating newly-created hazards such as unstable boulders and rocks. 3. Develop, implement, and enforce a written safety program which includes, but is not limited to, task specific safety procedures and worker training in hazard identification, avoidance, and control. 4. Designate a competent person to conduct frequent and regular site safety inspections.
Region-3; 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; Logging-workers; Safety-personnel; Safety-programs; Equipment-operators; Forestry; Forestry-workers
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-98WV028; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-CCU-312914
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
West Virginia Department of Health & Human Services
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division