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Timber cutter dies after being struck by elevated butt of previously felled tree which dropped as he walked under it 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 03WV045, 2004 Mar; :1-4
On December 2, 2003, a 24-year-old male timber cutter (victim) died of injuries sustained when he was struck from above by the elevated butt section of a tree he had previously felled as he walked under it. Just prior to the incident he had felled another tree which hung. As the skidder approached to mechanically remove the hung tree, the victim began to walk away from the operation. As he did so, he decided to walk directly under the butt section of a tree which remained elevated due to the formation of it's top and position on the bank of the skid road below. While passing under the butt, which was approximately 5-6 feet above the ground, the tree dropped due to victim contact and/or tree top breakage. The contact and/or breakage caused the butt to suddenly drop on top of the victim. Witnessing the incident, the skidder operator responded by immediately running to the victim's aid. Realizing the extent of his head injuries, the coworker ran to the landing to inform the certified logger who in turn told a truck driver to call 911. The certified logger then ran to the victim, noted the massive head trauma, and administered CPR. EMS arrived shortly thereafter, checked for vital signs and found none. The victim was dead at the scene. The WV FACE Investigator concluded that to reduce the likelihood of similar occurrences, employers should: 1. Ensure that workers understand the importance of "working defensively" and that elevated loads can drop at any moment and therefore should be avoided. 2. 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; Safety-programs; Training; Logging-workers; Forestry; Forestry-workers; Lumberjacks
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
Funding Type
Cooperative Agreement
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
FACE-03WV045; 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