Logger Killed Working Under Setback Tree



On a breezy and cold early winter weekend day in the Northeast, a conventional logger was felling hardwood trees.

Personal Characteristics

The logger was 38 years old. The extent of his training is unknown. He had previously been employed in the construction industry. He was wearing personal protective equipment, although his hard hat may have been repaired with tape.

Unsafe Act or Condition

The logger was working alone. It appears that he backed the skidder into position to cut a hitch of wood. He felled and limbed three hardwood trees first. He cut a fourth tree, and it apparently set back and was left standing on the stump. He then proceeded to fell a fifth tree and was in the process of limbing that hardwood.


As the logger was topping that fifth tree, the setback tree, which was notched and directed to fall in the area where he was working, came down and struck him.


The incident was not witnessed. The logger, apparently in a state of disorientation, walked down a skid trail and died of his injuries. The exact day and time is unclear. A co-worker came onto the job Sunday evening and noticed the skidder was not out at the yard and proceeded into the woods to look for the worker. He then came upon the deceased. It is unknown if the logger died of trauma or exposure. It was reported the logger was last seen working Saturday noon.

Recommendations for Correction

  • Working around setback trees must be avoided. Danger trees should be removed mechanically, or otherwise, before work within two tree lengths continues. Directional felling techniques, such as the use of a wedge to tip the tree over, could have avoided this incident.
  • Hard hats should be inspected daily for cracks, and replaced immediately if needed. Safety equipment is usually your last line of defense against injury.
  • Never work alone in the woods. OSHA specifies, “Each employee performing a logging operation at a logging work site shall work in a position or location that is within visual or audible contact with another employee.”