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Faller seriously injured when struck by piece of treetop

Date of incident: August 2013
Notice of incident number: 2013158930269
Employer: Manual tree falling company

Incident summary
A certified faller was seriously injured while falling four limb-tied trees. The faller was struck by a piece from one of the treetops as they collapsed.

Investigation conclusions
  • Worker struck by piece of treetop: While the faller was walking uphill toward a tree that he intended to use to push down four limb-tied trees, the limb-tied trees collapsed. A piece broke off one of the trees, striking the faller and causing serious injuries.
Underlying factors
  • Failure to follow plan completely: Although the faller had planned a safe procedure for falling the four limb-tied trees, he was interrupted when, after placing partial cuts into one of the trees, the chain came off his chainsaw. He fixed the chainsaw, but then failed to follow through with his plan. He made partial cuts into two standing hemlocks, but did not make his planned cuts into a green dangerous tree. (A dangerous tree is one that presents a hazard to a worker for one or more reasons, including the tree's location or lean and its physical damage.) As the green dangerous tree was limb-tied with two hemlocks, he could not return to make cuts into the dangerous tree. The limb-tied trees collapsed unexpectedly before he could knock them down with the tree he had planned to use to push them.
  • Collapse of trees placed tension on uncut dangerous tree: The faller was moving uphill away from the partly cut-up, limb-tied trees when they unexpectedly collapsed. As the cut-up trees collapsed onto the green dangerous tree, the green tree bent over and then suddenly released. When it released, it sprang back into its original position, causing its top to break off. The broken top was thrown and struck the faller.

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Publication Date: Unavailable Asset type: Incident Investigation Report Summary NI number: 2013158930269