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Timber cutter dies after being struck by the tree he was felling 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 02WV018, 2003 Feb; :1-4
On July 4, 2002, a 48-year-old male tree feller (the victim) died of injuries sustained when he was struck by the tree he was felling. The tree, with a slight up-hill lean, was located approximately 10 feet down hill from a skid road. It was 15 inches in diameter at breast height (DBH) and 90 feet tall. At the time of the incident, a skidder had been parked above the tree on the skid road. The victim had not cleared an escape path. He began cutting the tree with the intention of felling the tree in a downhill direction. The victim did not use a notch, hinge, or wedge. As he finished his final cut, the tree set-back and began falling uphill. When the victim started to retreat uphill, his foot became tangled in brush. As he freed himself, the falling tree struck the skidder, bounced off, and subsequently struck him, causing extensive upper body damage. Witnessing the incident, his partner responded by running down the hill to the nearest house. The homeowner called 911 and waited to direct the ambulance. The co-worker returned to the incident site to comfort the victim who remained conscious. Approximately 30 minutes passed from the time the incident took place until the EMS arrived. The victim died shortly after their arrival and was transported to the nearest medical facility where he was pronounced dead. The WV FACE Investigator concluded that, to reduce the likelihood of similar occurrences, employers should: 1. Ensure that tree fellers utilize proper directional felling techniques. 2. Ensure that tree fellers utilize felling wedges in addition to proper felling techniques on trees with back lean. 3. Ensure that tree fellers prepare an escape path and move a safe distance from the base of the tree.
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; Forestry; Forestry-workers; Lumberjacks
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
Funding Type
Cooperative Agreement
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
FACE-02WV018; 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