A feller-buncher operator decided to fell trees manually after his machine broke down on a clear, spring day in the South. The logging company was harvesting a natural stand of mixed products on flat terrain.
The 40-year-old machine operator had worked for the company for one year but had 20 years of logging experience. He was fully trained in logging safety and was wearing the appropriate personal protective equipment. He rarely operated a chain saw because the logging crew was fully mechanized.
Unsafe Act or Condition
The operator did not completely evaluate potential hazards and unsafe conditions. The tree he was felling had a vine running from the top to a dead tree directly behind the position he had taken to fell the tree.
As the tree fell, the vine pulled the dead tree, causing the top to break loose. It fell on the logger; he was struck on the side of the head, shoulder and left side of his body.
The logger sustained a fractured shoulder, two fractured ribs and a concussion. He underwent surgery to repair the fractured shoulder and missed eight months of work.
Chain saw operators should always fully evaluate the scene to identify potential hazards and unsafe conditions. OSHA requires manual fellers to look for overhead hazards and to fell ‘hazard’ trees – by mechanical means if necessary.
Even though a logging crew may be fully mechanized, breakdowns to felling machines and processors do occur. Logging crew members should receive chain saw safety training if there is any possibility that they will operate a chain saw. Chain saws should only be operated by trained individuals.
(Source: Forest Resources Assn.)