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Hispanic worker dies when a sixty-foot tree falls onto the hydraulic excavator he was operating to clear land - Tennessee.

Lutz V
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 2009-02, 2011 Aug; :1-11
On February 7, 2009, a 28-year-old Hispanic worker suffered fatal injuries when a tree he was attempting to fell struck the cab of the hydraulic excavator he was operating. At the time of the incident, the victim was working for a site development company that was preparing land to construct a parking lot and driveway for a golf course. He was operating the hydraulic excavator to push down trees by first digging around the base of the tree to loosen the root system, placing the bucket of the hydraulic excavator against the trunk of the tree and extending the boom outward to push the tree away from the hydraulic excavator. There were no witnesses to the incident; however, it is believed that the victim was engaging the boom to push a sixty-foot tall sweet gum tree over when it fell backwards onto the cab. The weight of the tree caved in the cab's roof and trapped the victim inside. According to the county medical examiner's office, the victim's death was due to mechanical asphyxia caused by being pinned in a contorted position. Key contributing factors identified in this investigation include failure to consider and prepare for the environmental conditions of the work area, such as wet and unstable soil, shallow root system of the trees to be felled, and wind speeds which may hamper the hydraulic excavator operator's ability to control the direction the tree will fall. NIOSH investigators concluded that, to help prevent similar occurrences, employers should: 1. ensure that prior to commencing tree-felling operations, a plan is developed that includes guidelines for continual evaluation of the worksite for safety hazards, as well as procedures for implementing hazard control measures. 2. ensure that the safety program, manual, and training include specific guidance on recognizing and mitigating hazardous work site conditions. 3. ensure that the equipment being used on the job provides the highest level of physical protection for the workers and is the most appropriate for the work being done.
Region-4; Accident-analysis; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Traumatic-injuries; Engineering-controls; Control-technology; Work-operations; Work-practices; Training; Logging-workers; Equipment-operators; Lumber-industry; Lumber-industry-workers; Surveillance
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Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
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National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division