WorkSafeBC Home

Upslope logging resulted in death of faller

Date of incident: June 2012
Notice of incident number: 2012108320010
Employer: Tree falling company

Incident summary
A certified faller was on a steep slope, using his chainsaw to buck a felled tree into logs. Another faller was working upslope and felled a tree, which ran away downslope following a natural drainage path. The faller who was bucking was struck and pushed downslope by either the runaway tree or a rock or other object that was dislodged by the runaway tree. When this faller did not answer a regular radio check, his falling partner went to check on him. The falling partner found the faller unconscious and seriously injured.

The injured faller and a first aid attendant were flown off the mountainside to a log landing to meet BC Ambulance Service paramedics who were on their way by helicopter. When the paramedics arrived at the log landing, they determined that the faller was deceased and could not be resuscitated.

Investigation conclusions

  • Faller struck by an object travelling down the drainage: A faller was preparing to buck a tree that was positioned across the drainage. A second faller felled a tree upslope from the first faller, and the tree ran away downslope. The downslope faller received multiple blunt-force injuries after being struck either by the runaway tree or an object or objects dislodged by it as it travelled down the drainage.

Underlying factors

  • Fallers working in unsafe areas: Two fallers were unsafely placed in an upslope patch, creating risks to the fallers located in two downslope patches. The downslope fallers were exposed to the hazard of being struck by objects dislodged from upslope.
  • Inadequate planning: The owner, agents, and the falling contractor at this forestry operation failed to meet the requirements for planning a forestry operation. As a result, hazards such as improper faller placement and excessive brushing of standing timber were not identified. In addition, first aid services at the workplace did not meet the requirements of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation.
  • Inadequate supervision: The supervision at this forestry operation was inadequate as evidenced by fallers being unsafely placed, exposing the fallers working downslope to hazards from upslope. In addition, fallers were not assessed to confirm their qualifications and competence before being allowed to fall trees. Records of the initial safety meeting were not kept, and no records were developed to confirm that an appropriate orientation was conducted. No inspections were conducted to determine if the falling was being conducted according to the BC Faller Training Standard (BCFTS) and the Regulation. The falling supervisor was building helipads instead of supervising the fallers at the workplace. Workmanship audits conducted after the incident by WorkSafeBC showed that most of the workmanship did not meet the BCFTS or the Regulation.
  • Inadequate occupational health and safety leadership: There was no clear designation of a prime contractor, so no party effectively fulfilled that role. Inadequate planning resulted, which led to fallers in an upslope patch being located above other fallers, exposing the latter to the hazard of being struck by an object coming down the slope.

Request the full report

Publication Date: Jun 2012 Asset type: Incident Investigation Report Summary NI number: 2012108320010