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Log moved when bucked, crushing faller

Date of incident: December 2014
Notice of incident number: 2014161740095
Employer: Tree falling company

Incident summary
A certified manual faller was bucking a blown-down tree on steep ground. When the faller cut off a portion of the tree, it pivoted on a standing tree. The rootwad section shifted downhill. At the same time, the bucked end of the rootwad section swung uphill, pinning the faller against a rock face. The faller suffered fatal crushing injuries.

Investigation conclusions

  • Faller pinned by unexpected movement of bucked tree: The blown-down tree was lying against a large standing hemlock tree. The large, heavy rootwad was about 17 feet uphill of the standing tree. The faller was standing about 48 feet downhill from the standing tree when he bucked the tree. After he made the cut, the rootwad moved downhill and the bucked end swung uphill, using the standing tree as a pivot point. The bucked end pinned the faller against a rock face and he sustained fatal injuries.

Underlying factors

  • Failure to recognize the pivot hazard: The faller did not recognize the pivot hazard of the standing tree and the potential consequences of bucking the tree well below the pivot point. The rootwad and the pivot tree were both on a steep slope above the faller and were in standing timber, obscuring the faller’s view from the bucking point.
  • Failure to anticipate the movement of the blown-down tree: The faller may have identified the potential for the hazardous movement of the blown-down tree. However, he may not have anticipated just how far the blown-down tree would move. If he had, he would not have bucked the blown-down tree where he did as the nearby rock face did not allow for an escape route.
  • Improper bucking on steep terrain: The steep slope on which this blown-down tree was located meant that its heavy rootwad could easily slide downhill. As well, the open area where the faller made his bucking cut permitted the blown-down tree to pivot freely. A safe bucking solution would have been for the faller to buck this tree as close to the pivot point as possible.

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Publication Date: Jan 2017 Asset type: Incident Investigation Report Summary NI number: 2014161740095