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Golf course mechanic died when struck by falling ash tree.

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 09MI082, 2011 Jul; :1-12
In the fall of 2009, a 53-year-old male golf course mechanic was struck by an 84-foot tall, 15-inch diameter dead ash tree he was felling. The decedent and his coworker were in the process of removing eight dead ash trees on the course. The incident ash tree was assessed and damage noted approximately 36 feet above the ground. Additionally, one of the ash tree's limbs was wedged in an adjacent tree to the north. The desired fall path was to the south. To fell the tree, the decedent made a 6¾-inch Humboldt-style notch on the south side of the tree approximately 32 inches from the base of the stump. The decedent made a downward diagonal back cut, at an approximate 45-degree angle and in approximately 6½ inches, into the north side of the tree. The decedent had retreated 24 feet to the west between a stand of trees after making his cuts. At some point in the process, the decedent made a horizontal cut from the south side of the tree into the existing hinge wood leaving approximately ¼-inch of hinge wood remaining. When the tree did not fall, the decedent returned to the tree to make further cuts and the tree began to fall. The decedent then retreated to the north. Instead of falling to the south, the tree began to fall to the north, in the direction of the decedent's retreat. The tree in which the ash limb was wedged apparently placed excessive pressure on the ash tree's damaged area causing the ash tree to snap at approximately the 35 foot mark. The top 48 feet of the ash tree fell at an east/west axis and the base of the tree fell to the north. The decedent had retreated approximately 27 feet from the ash tree when he was struck in the back by the falling tree. The decedent's coworker contacted emergency response. Emergency response arrived and transported the decedent to a local hospital where he was declared dead. Recommendations: 1. Employers should ensure workers have appropriate training prior to beginning work and not assume that a worker who has relevant past experience performing a task has an appropriate level of expertise to perform the task. 2. Employers who have employees conduct tree trimming and removal operations should ensure a job briefing is performed by a qualified individual/arborist prior to any tree removal operation. 3. Employers should conduct a hazard assessment to determine if job tasks require the use personal protective equipment (PPE). If PPE is required, employers should perform the required employee training and develop procedures to ensure its use. 4. Employers should develop a written safety and health program that includes employee education and training and that reflects the composition of the business. In this incident, the employer should develop a safety and health program for the kitchen, the restaurant/banquet center, the golf course operation/maintenance group, etc. 5. MIOSHA should update General Industry Safety Standard, Part 53, Tree Trimming and Removal to include applicable requirements from MIOSHA Standard Part 51, Logging to address tree removal safety issues and reference the most recent Z133 Committee consensus standard for safety practices for arborists.
Region-5; Accident-analysis; Accident-potential; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Groundskeeping-workers; Forestry; Forestry-workers; Training; Personal-protective-equipment; Protective-equipment; Safety-practices; Author Keywords: Struck by; Falling Tree; Golf Course; Wedged Tree
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-09MI082; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-OH-008466; B11232011
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