Sawhead Projects Wood Splinter into Vehicle Tire

SA-Sawhead-scaled illustration


On a clear, summer morning in the Appalachians, a logging crew was harvesting hardwood timber in rolling terrain. The logging crew had parked a service truck on the edge of the log deck as usual when they arrived in the morning.

Personal Characteristics

The crew members were experienced, and the main person involved in this incident was the logging business owner, who was operating a feller-buncher equipped with a rotating disc saw (“sawhead”). The 58-year-old owner had been working in logging for 35 years, was fully trained, had no physical disabilities or previous accident history, and was wearing personal protective equipment appropriate for the job.

Unsafe Act and Condition

The service truck was parked close to the active work zone. During the day, the sawhead operator cut a group of trees approximately 25 to 35 feet away from the service truck and did not account for the potential hazards to the nearby vehicle.


At some point, the sawhead faced the service truck and forcefully discharged some wood splinters in that direction when felling those close-by trees. When the logging crew went to leave that evening, they discovered that the passenger-side front tire was flat.


The crew found a splinter of wood lodged into the sidewall of the tire. Fortunately, no one was hurt when the splinter was projected forcefully into the tire.

Recommendations for Correction

  1. Operators of disc saw-equipped felling machines must avoid cutting when people, domestic animals, buildings, or easily damaged property are located on the discharge side of the saw. Reposition the felling machine as necessary to avoid discharging cutting debris toward people, objects, equipment, and animals.
  2. Logging contractors should design their cutting sequences and cutting work areas so disc saw felling machines are directed away from high-traffic areas.
  3. Never work on the discharge side of disc saw felling heads. Always maintain a 300-foot separation between high-speed disc saws and ground workers.
  4. Follow all safe operation and maintenance procedures and heed all cautions and warnings described in operator and service manuals when inspecting, maintaining, and operating feller-bunchers with sawheads.