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Timber cutter dies after being struck from behind by a tree which became entangled with 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 04WV001, 2004 Mar; :1-6
On January 6, 2004, a 68-year-old male tree feller (victim) died of injuries sustained when he was struck from behind by a tree which became entangled with the tree he was felling. He was in the process of felling a 65 foot red oak with substantial back lean. As he began cutting the tree, the victim did not use a hinge to control the fell and wedge to compensate for back lean. He was unable to use his wedge because it became buried under the butt of the tree he had felled earlier. As he finished his final cut, the tree set back and began falling opposite of the intended direction. Accordingly, he changed his escape path and retreated in the opposite direction. He stood approximately 12 feet from the stump to watch the fell, but as the tree fell, its top became entangled with a small diameter 70 foot tall black birch whose root system was weak. The oak pulled the birch over, striking the victim from behind. Witnessing the incident, his son responded by running down to the victim, cutting the birch off of him, and lying him down. Realizing the extent of his father's injuries, the son went to the landing and told a log truck driver to call 911. The driver stayed with the victim while the son waited to direct the ambulance. Approximately 30 minutes passed from the time of the incident until 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.
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; Logging-workers; Forestry; Forestry-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-04WV001; 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