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Danger tree breaks off, strikes faller

A manual faller was working in a cutblock. He made the cuts to fall a dead hemlock tree (a snag, or danger tree). The undercut left a 5-inch Dutchman, and when the tree started to fall, a 16-foot section broke off. It fell in the direction opposite to that of the intended fall of the tree and struck the faller, causing fatal injuries.


Findings as to causes

  • The faller was struck by a section of a hemlock danger tree that broke off and did not fall as intended.
Findings as to underlying factors
  • The faller performed unsafe work practices and used a high-risk escape route when falling the danger tree.
  • The faller may not have performed an adequate risk assessment to identify all the hazards inherent in the danger tree.
  • The faller may have identified some of the hazards inherent in the danger tree, but if so, he failed to take the appropriate actions to mitigate or eliminate the hazards.
  • The faller had successfully felled many danger trees in the past. He may have made some assumptions of risk based on his previous experiences in falling similar danger trees. The faller may have perceived his risk to be lower than the actual risk.

Publication Date: Dec 2005 File type: PDF (747 KB) Asset type: Incident Investigation Report Summary NI number: 2005155980096