Falling Tree Injures In-Woods Workers
On a partly cloudy Fall morning in the Southcentral U.S., two employees were topping trees on a logging operation and had just moved to a new section of the tract. The workers positioned themselves on the edge of the woods right off the logging road to take a short work break while waiting for the feller-buncher to finish and depart the area. Their backs were facing the feller-buncher.
Both employees had at least six months of industry experience at the time of the accident.
Unsafe Acts and Conditions:
The workers entered an area that was too close to tree felling activity and were positioned with their backs facing an operating machine.
The feller-buncher operator unknowingly backed over an oak tree, causing it to uproot and fall in the direction of the in-woods workers. The canopy of the falling tree hit both workers, knocking them to the ground. After turning the machine around, the feller-buncher operator noticed the workers trying to climb out from under the downed tree.
Both workers sustained multiple contusions and fractures. One suffered a puncture wound to his abdomen, and the other injured his spleen. The crew foreman called 911, and an ambulance was able to drive down the logging road directly to the accident scene. EMS personnel evaluated the extent of all injuries and decided to airlift both workers to a regional medical center for further evaluation and treatment.
Recommendations for Correction:
- Always maintain a safe distance from any tree felling activity
- Always position yourself facing operating equipment
- Crew members should maintain constant communication to ensure they know the location of co-workers at all times