KY FACE #97KY031
Date: 3 July 1997
Subject: Logger Killed When Struck by Tree Limb During Hauling
A 52-year-old male was killed on a logging site when a tree limb
struck him in the back of the head. He had no previous logging
experience and had been working with his friend who was a full-time
logger for six days when the fatal incident occurred. The two
men were working alone on the logging site and it was about 5:30
pm when they chained a load of three logs to the bulldozer to
be dragged downhill to be loaded on a truck. A branch that was
about 8 feet long and 4-5 inches in diameter stuck out of one
of the logs at approximately a 45 degree angle. When the logger
started the bulldozer, he noticed that his friend was a safe distance
away and began to pull the logs. As he did this, the branch sticking
out became lodged behind a standing tree. Apparently the victim
walked over near the load and was attempting to start his chainsaw
when the branch that was caught behind the standing tree suddenly
gave way and hit the victim in the back of the head. When the
logger driving the bulldozer turned around to check on the load,
he saw his friend lying face down on the ground beside the load
of logs; the chainsaw lying nearby was still running. The logger
drove his bulldozer down the hill to a convenience store to call
for help. Rescue personnel were dispatched at 6:11 pm and arrived
on the scene at 6:27 pm. The victim showed vital signs upon EMS
arrival and a life flight helicopter was called to the scene.
He was transported to a trauma center, but died several hours
later. In order to prevent similar incidents from occurring,
FACE investigators recommend that:
On 17 April 1997, FACE was informed of a 52-year-old male who
was involved in a logging incident on 15 April and died on 16
April. An investigation was initiated and a site visit was made
on 23 May 1997. The EMS personnel who treated the victim at the
scene were interviewed and they accompanied the investigator to
the site. The EMS report was reviewed. An interview was conducted
at the logging site with the logger who was working with the victim.
Photographs were taken of the site although the area had been
altered slightly since the incident. No photographs were taken
at the scene of the incident.
The victim in the incident had worked as a truck driver at a cement
company for 22 years. After recently losing his job with the
company, he went to work for his friend who was a full-time logger.
He planned to learn the business then purchase a truck to haul
logs. He had no previous experience logging and had only been
working with his friend for six days when the fatal incident occurred.
The employer was a full-time logger who had been self-employed
for 18 years. He owned a bulldozer and leased property for logging
purposes. He usually hired one or two other loggers to assist
him at a site. There was no formal training or safety program
in place. The use of personal protective equipment (PPE), such
as hard hats, was not a requirement at the job site.
On the day of the incident, the weather was warm and clear. This
was the sixth day that the victim had been working with his friend
who was a full-time logger. As usual, the two men were working
alone on the mountain land that the logger leased. The logging
site was about a half mile up a dirt path on a hillside densely
covered with trees. Trees stood on both sides of the dirt path
used by the bulldozer. Because the victim had no logging experience,
the full-time logger was training him as they worked although
there was no formal process. Neither of the men wore hard hats
or other personal protective equipment (PPE) while working.
It was about 5:30 in the afternoon when the loggers had secured
a load of three logs to the bulldozer to be taken down the hillside
to a clearing where they would be loaded on a truck. As the logger
got on the bulldozer to pull the logs, he noticed that his friend
was about 15-20 feet away trying to start his chainsaw. A branch
that was about 8 feet long and 4-5 inches in diameter stuck out
of one of the logs being hauled at approximately a 45 degree angle
and as he began to pull the load of logs, the branch sticking
out became lodged behind a standing tree. When the logger driving
the bulldozer turned around to check on the load, he saw his friend
was lying face down on the ground beside the load of logs; the
chainsaw lying nearby was still running. Although the incident
was unwitnessed, apparently the victim walked over near the load
when the branch that was caught behind the standing tree suddenly
gave way and hit the victim on the lower portion of the back of
his head. The logger ran over to his friend and found that he
was severely injured. He repositioned the victim=s
head to the side to decrease the risk of suffocation then drove
the bulldozer down the hill to a nearby convenience store to call
for help. Rescue personnel were dispatched at 6:11 pm. When
they arrived on the scene at 6:27 pm, the victim still showed
vital signs although he had suffered a severe head injury and
was bleeding profusely. The life flight helicopter was summoned
to the scene and the victim was taken on a stretcher approximately
40-50 feet to the top of the hill where there was a open field
for the helicopter to land. At 7:32 pm the helicopter left the
scene and transported the victim to a trauma center. The victim
showed vital signs for several more hours, but died at the hospital
at 12:55 am.
CAUSE OF DEATH
Cause of death according to the coroner=s
report was brain injury with open wound.
Recommendation #1: Loggers should wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) while working.
Discussion: Employers should require their employees
to wear appropriate PPE, such as head, eye, and leg protection
while working at the logging site. In this case, neither of the
loggers were wearing hard hats or other PPE. It is unknown whether
a hard hat would have prevented an injury because the limb struck
the victim on the lower portion of the back of the head and neck,
however his injuries may have been less severe if his head had
Recommendation #2: Employers should provide proper training to new employees.
Discussion: Employers should properly train employees
in safe methods and practices of logging. Training should include
recognizing, avoiding and abating common hazards encountered while
logging. In this case, the employer should have stressed the
importance of safe practices, such as staying a safe distance
away from the logs and equipment during skidding operations.
Recommendation #3: Loggers should attend the Master Logger Program for education regarding Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) logging standards and safety procedures.
Discussion: Loggers should be aware of proper procedures
and safety practices to ensure a safe work environment. For more
information about the Master Logger Program, contact Larry Lowe
at the Kentucky Department of Natural Resources (502-564-4496).
American Pulpwood Association (APA), Inc. Safety Alert (94-S-11);
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). ALERT- Preventing Injuries and Deaths of Loggers; December 1994.