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Tree feller dies after being struck by snag 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 99WV038, 1999 Nov; :1-6
On July 6, 1999, a 46-year-old male tree feller (the victim) died of injuries sustained when he was struck in the head and back by a 63-foot snag which had been lodged in two trees. The crew had discussed removing the snag which rested in a tree above the skid road and was in contact with a tree below the road. Although company policy called for mechanical removal of all snags, the victim attempted to knock the snag out of the tree by felling another tree into it. Instead of breaking the snag loose, the tree fell in the wrong direction, lodging in one of the two trees which was in contact with the snag. The lodged tree was removed from the area with a bulldozer, yet the snag was left unmoved. The following day, the owner advised the victim to wait until the snag was mechanically removed before cutting in the area. The victim made the decision to fell the tree below the skid road whose top was in contact with the snag. Placing himself under the snag, the victim began cutting the tree. The company owner and the loader operator were at the landing site conversing with the landowner. The landing site was approximately 75 yards from the victim's worksite. The company owner suddenly heard the chainsaw stop running and headed for the work site with a gasoline can. When he arrived at the scene, he saw that the snag had crushed the victim, killing him instantly. The chainsaw was still stuck in the tree as the tree remained standing. He yelled back to the landing for someone to contact 911. The landowner went to his home, located nearby, and called 911. The EMS arrived approximately one hour later and transported the victim to a local trauma center where he was pronounced dead on arrival. The WV FACE Investigator concluded that, to reduce the likelihood of similar occurrences, employers should: 1. Ensure that any snag, in or near an active cutting zone, be identified, tagged/flagged, and removed mechanically before proceeding with the cutting operation. 2. Ensure that tree fellers properly evaluate the timber and the area around the timber to be felled immediately prior to felling so that potential hazards can be identified and appropriate control measures implemented. 3. Ensure that company safety programs are consistently implemented and enforced including those methods for 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; 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-99WV038; 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