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Municipal tree trimmer dies when falling tree limb struck him.

Michigan State University
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 05MI095, 2007 Jan; :1-8
On August 25, 2005, 51-year-old male municipal tree trimmer and his three coworkers were in the process of delimbing a dead silver maple tree that was approximately 31 inches in diameter at its base when an overhead limb broke and struck the decedent on his head and shoulder. The tree was on city property and deemed to be a hazard to residents. The decedent, who was the on-site supervisor, and his crew had delimbed the smaller branches and were in the process of removing the three remaining major limbs. One limb grew over the pedestrian sidewalk toward a home, one limb grew almost straight up in the air, and one limb grew over the street. The crew decided to remove the limb that grew over the pedestrian sidewalk because it was near the home. The decedent was responsible for the friction rope used to lower the cut limb to the ground. The crew had successfully made three cuts to this limb; the cut limb fell away from the remaining limb, struck the tree trunk, and then was lowered via the friction rope to the stake truck below. The incident occurred on the fourth cut. The decedent was standing approximately 25 feet away from the tree in the street and under the tree limb that grew over the street. When the tree limb being cut struck the trunk, it may have caused the tree itself to vibrate, which may have caused the limb growing almost straight up to break at a weak spot. The fully barked, 8-inch diameter center limb broke at its center section due to a knothole that had rotted out. The knothole had a bird/squirrel nest covering it. The center limb section fell and struck the decedent. He was wearing all required protective equipment - hardhat, safety vest, and safety glasses. He died approximately two weeks after the incident. Recommendations: 1. Employers should review tree-trimming activities and determine if existing rigging methods could be updated with existing technology. 2. Employers should ensure that crew sizes are large enough to enable a site supervisor to effectively perform their safety-related activities. 3. Employers should standardize tree trimming safe work practices, such as prohibiting an employee to work under the drip line of a tree and sounding dead tree limbs with an axe handle.
Accident-analysis; Accident-potential; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Safety-equipment; Safety-practices; Traumatic-injuries; Region-5; Logging-workers; Forestry-workers; Occupational-accidents
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-05MI095; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-OH-008466; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-CCU-521205
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
Michigan State University
Page last reviewed: December 17, 2021
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division