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Twenty-seven-year-old tree-care worker killed by falling branch.

New Jersey Department of Health
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 12NJ019, 2013 Aug; :1-9
A 27-year-old male ground crewman at a tree care company was struck and killed by a 38-pound cut branch. On the day of the incident, the decedent and two other workers were felling an approximately 80-foot tall ash tree on a farm in northern New Jersey. One worker was cutting branches from about 60 feet up in the tree and the other two workers were on the ground using chainsaws and a wood chipper to process felled branches. The worker in the tree signaled to the two below that a branch was about to be cut (free-fall cut, not a controlled descent). Both ground crew members were standing near the chipper and had acknowledged the signal. For an unknown reason, one of the ground crew members began walking towards the drop zone and was struck and killed by the falling branch. Contributing Factors: 1. Delineation of drop zone; 2. Noise from the wood chipper 3. Communication. NJ FACE investigators recommend that these safety guidelines be followed to prevent similar incidents: 1. A clear delineation of the drop zone (also known as exclusion zone or drip zone) should be created using spray paint or tape. 2. Ensure that proper communication exists in or around the drop zone. 3. Whenever possible, pile all branches to be pruned or chipped in the same location, out of the drop zone. 4. A safety and health plan based on a job hazard analysis should be developed by the employer and followed where workers are assigned tasks.
Region-2; Accident-analysis; Accident-potential; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Traumatic-injuries; Safety-education; Safety-measures; Safety-monitoring; Safety-practices; Safety-programs; Training; Work-analysis; Work-environment; Work-operations; Work-performance; Work-practices; Groundskeeping-workers; Wood; Signaling-systems; Warning-signals; Safety-measures; Noise; Noise-sources; Communication-systems; Environmental-control
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-12NJ019; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-OH-008485; B20130124
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services
Page last reviewed: August 19, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division