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Tree feller dies after being struck by entangled tree while felling tree 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 99WV033, 1999 Oct; :1-8
On July 22 1999, a 36-year-old male tree feller (the victim) died of injuries sustained when he was struck in the back of the head by a tree which had been pulled over onto him as he was felling. The victim had finished cutting for the day and was on his way back to the landing site. He decided to fell one last tree on the way out. The victim was felling a tree on terrain with a 70% slope. The slope was rocky and laden with grapevines. He was in the process of felling a yellow poplar. The poplar was approximately 30 inches in diameter at breast height and 90 feet tall. Eighteen feet directly behind and uphill from the victim was a small tree approximately 6 inches in diameter. The smaller tree had grapevines which were attached to the top of the tree being felled. His felling technique was un-controlling, often referred to as "stump jumping." As the tree began to fall, the entangled vines snapped off the smaller tree approximately 9 feet above ground level. The felled tree continued pulling the smaller tree down hill until it struck the victim who was 4 feet from the base of the tree. He was not wearing a hard hat and was struck in the head. Fellow workers who had also finished for the day and were on their way out heard the fell but got no response from the victim when they yelled to him. A cable puller was first to discover the victim. He ran to the landing site, at which time a cellular phone was used to summon rescue. Fellow workers administered first aid and CPR. The EMS arrived within approximately 25 minutes. The victim was transported to the local trauma center and died two hours later. The WV FACE Investigator concluded that, to reduce the likelihood of similar occurrences, employers should: 1. Ensure that tree fellers properly evaluate the timber and the area around the timber to be felled so that potential hazards can be identified and appropriate control measures implemented. 2. Ensure that tree fellers prepare an escape path and move a safe distance from the base of the tree as it is falling. 3. Ensure that tree fellers utilize proper directional felling techniques. 4. 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.
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; Logging-workers; Training; Safety-programs; 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-99WV033; 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