20-S-18: Firewood Processor Accident

Background

During the summer in the Lake States Region, the owner of a firewood processor nearly severed part of his arm when a chainsaw head was accidentally engaged.

Incident

The owner was loading logs onto the loading deck as the operator was feeding 100-inch logs to be processed into firewood dimensions and then forced through the splitting head. One of the logs became jammed on the in-feed of the processor. The owner proceeded to grab a picaroon to loosen the log. Prior to attempting to free the jammed log, the owner shut-off the chainsaw cutting head, but kept the processor running.

As the owner reached to loosen the jammed log, he put his arm beneath the chainsaw head. As the log was freed, a branch kicked up and hit the chainsaw head switch, which engaged the chainsaw. The saw came down on the forearm just above the wrist, severing the ulna and partially cutting in the radius.

The owner immediately yelled for help. The operator shut off the power to the firewood processor. A neighbor heard the screams and immediately came over to assist the owner. He was then rushed to a nearby community hospital and then transported by helicopter to a regional hospital.

The quick and decisive actions of the neighbor in transporting the owner to the hospital and of the physicians of the community hospital to air transport the owner to the regional hospital saved the forearm and hand from amputation. The owner is now recovering emotionally and through physical therapy. He has all feelings in his hand and fingers.

Unsafe Condition

The owner did not instruct the operator to completely lock out the firewood processor to a zero energy state. He only disengaged the chainsaw cutting head.

Recommended Corrections
  • When the machine needs to be accessed, make sure it is locked down to a zero energy state.
  • Do not become complacent in following safety first.
  • Do not reach into the cutting or splitting head section of the machine while it is running.
  • Make sure all safety guards are in place.
  • Have a first aid kit that is easily accessible on-site.

Firewood Processor Accident

Reviewed by: Tim O’Hara