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Worker seriously injured when struck by 30-foot treetop

Date of incident: May 2013
Notice of incident number: 2013166950111
Employer: Timber-harvesting company

Incident summary
Two workers - a hooktender and a rigging slinger - were working together on the hillside of a cutblock. The hooktender signalled for the operator of the yarder (a machine that pulls in logs) to tighten the yarding lines (wire ropes) for a "road change" over to the next area to be cleared of felled timber. As the yarding lines were being tightened, the rigging slinger, who had been setting the chokers on the logs, was struck by a 30-foot treetop that had been lying on the hillside and that was dislodged by the sudden movement of one of the yarding lines.

Investigation conclusions
  • Worker not positioned in the clear: The rigging slinger was seriously injured after being struck by a moving treetop. The rigging slinger was positioned too close to the yarding lines during a road change. He was not in a safe position far enough away from any moving logs.
  • Premature signal for movement of yarding lines: The hooktender failed to ensure that the rigging slinger was in the clear before giving the signal for the yarder operator to perform a hard tightline for the road change. The hooktender signalled for the road change before he was sure that no workers, including him, were endangered in the area.
Underlying factors
  • Inadequate supervision: The hooktender was the supervisor at the worksite, and was responsible for the safety of the workers around him. The hooktender failed to adequately supervise the rigging slinger, who was positioned in the hazardous area of yarding lines under tension.
  • Failure to identify and control hazards on the hillside: The work area was not checked before the road change. As a result, the hazard posed by the 30-foot treetop lying on the hillside wasn't identified. The treetop upended during the road change, striking the rigging slinger.

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Publication Date: May 2013 Asset type: Incident Investigation Report Summary NI number: 2013166950111