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Tree feller dies after being struck by tree being felled in West Virginia.

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 99WV026, 1999 Aug; :1-8
On May 18, 1999, a 39 year-old male tree feller (the victim) died of injuries sustained when he was struck by and then pinned to the ground by the tree he was felling. The victim was felling trees on terrain with a 16% slope. He was in the process of felling an oak. The oak was approximately 16 inches in diameter at breast height and 85 feet tall. He asked the dozer operator working with him to clear a small area next to the base of the tree. He then made a few additional brush clearing cuts for base access. He made a small, open faced notch. His third and final cut left little if any hinge wood. After making his final cut he, moved approximately 4 feet to the side and watched the tree fall. In the process, the tree contacted an oak 24 feet from the base of the tree. The contacted oak was 8 inches in diameter at breast height. As the falling tree contacted the smaller oak, it rolled and the butt cantilevered into the air striking and pinning the victim to the ground. He was pinned diagonally across the abdomen and pelvis. Witnessing the incident, the dozer operator responded by lifting the tree enough to free the victim using the dozer blade to slide the tree up the now-slanted smaller oak. He then slid the victim out. The victim remained conscious. After reassuring the victim, the operator reached in the victim's pocket and acquired the keys for his truck which was located approximately one quarter of a mile downhill at the landing site. Upon reaching the truck, he realized he had the wrong set of keys and began a lengthy downhill run through the woods. His goal was a house located approximately two miles away at the beginning of the site's access road. At the home, he called 911 and waited for the ambulance. Riding in with the ambulance, he guided them to the victim. The dozer operator then cleared a landing area for life-flight. Approximately three hours after the incident, the victim was flown to the nearest trauma center where he died later that evening. The WV FACE Investigator concluded that, to reduce the likelihood of similar occurrences, employers should: 1. Ensure that tree fellers prepare an escape path and move a safe distance from the base of the tree as it is falling. 2. Ensure that tree fellers utilize proper directional felling techniques. 3. Develop, implement, and enforce a written safety program which includes, but is not limited to, training in hazard identification, avoidance, and abatement as well as methods dealing with worker non-compliance. 4. Designate a competent person to conduct frequent and regular site safety inspections. 6. Ensure that a timely means for summoning emergency services exists on each job-site.
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; Safety-programs; Forestry; Forestry-workers; Training; Safety-personnel; Logging-workers; Lumberjacks
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-99WV026; 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