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Logging company owner dies after being struck by a set-back as he began topping another 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 03WV012, 2003 Jul; :1-6
On June 9, 2003, a 53-year-old male logging company owner (the victim) died of injuries sustained when he was struck by a still-standing maple that he had attempted to fell earlier. When his final cut failed, he decided to let the set-back stand and move on to a large red oak located 11 feet to the side and slightly uphill from the standing maple. The maple was 10 inches in diameter at breast height (DBH) and 65 feet tall. The oak was approximately 40 inches DBH. After felling the oak, he walked down hill to begin topping it. He positioned himself on top of the oak about 40 feet downhill from the maple. As he began his first cut, a gust of wind blew the set-back over. Two of his employees, who witnessed the incident, reported that they saw the set-back begin to fall toward him. They yelled a warning to the victim but he was unable to hear them due to his running chainsaw. The victim was struck from his right rear receiving severe multiple injuries to his upper body. One of the workers drove the skidder to the operation's landing site and notified a truck driver who then called the local EMS. The other worker remained with the victim for approximately 30 minutes, at which time the EMS arrived and pronounced the victim dead. The WV FACE Investigator concluded that, to reduce the likelihood of similar occurrences, employers should: 1. Ensure that tree fellers utilize felling wedges in addition to proper felling techniques on trees with back lean. 2. Ensure that set-backs are immediately removed mechanically before continuing any work. 3. Ensure that company policies and practices concerning hazard abatement are consistently followed by all.
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; Lumber-industry; Lumberjacks
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
Funding Type
Cooperative Agreement
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
FACE-03WV012; 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