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Logger in training dies after being struck by a previously felled tree which rolled off of a bank 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 02WV040, 2003 Mar; :1-5
On December 3, 2002, an 18-year-old male logger (the victim) died of injuries sustained when he was struck from behind by the section of a felled tree which rolled off the bank directly above him. He was positioned on the skid road with his back to the bank and was trimming the butt of a white oak which had been felled by a coworker. Just prior to the incident his coworker had felled the forked white oak which was located approximately 30 feet above the skid road on top of a 10 foot bank. Both sections of the forked oak fell across the skid road and remained attached to each other. The victim then topped both tree sections. A dozer operator, needing access to other timber, attempted to push the sections out of the road and off the bank. In doing so, the tree forks separated at the base and one of the two sections fell from the bank and landed parallel to the skid road. The other section remained diagonally upon the bank directly above the first. The dozer continued down the skid road and parked. The owner and victim were walking past the precariously elevated section when the victim decided to trim the butt of the other tree section which was down on the road. With his back to the elevated butt, he began his cut. The owner, realizing what he was doing, turned towards the victim. At that point the elevated log began to slide off the bank. The owner yelled to warn the victim, who not hear his warning, but continued cutting, and was struck from behind. The falling tree pushed the victim down placing his head between the two trees as they contacted one another. Witnessing the incident, the owner responded by telling another worker in the area to run down the hill and summon EMS. The owner noted the massive head trauma, checked for vital signs, but found none. EMS arrived shortly thereafter pronouncing the victim dead at the incident scene. The WV FACE Investigator concluded that, to reduce the likelihood of similar occurrences, employers should: 1. Ensure that workers properly evaluate the area around the task to be performed prior to starting 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 roads and work areas for the purpose of identifying and abating newly-created hazards such as unstable tree segments. 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.
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; Equipment-operators; Training; Forestry; Forestry-workers; Lumberjacks
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
Funding Type
Cooperative Agreement
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
FACE-02WV040; 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