FALLING LIMB KILLS LOGGER IN BACK OF PICKUP TRUCK
BACKGROUND: A logging crew was harvesting an aspen stand in east central Minnesota during winter. The crew had worked a half-day on a Saturday and was travelling in a pickup truck from the log landing to the area where their vehicles were parked. The winds were shifting and gusting to 25 miles per hour.
PERSONAL CHARACTERISTICS: One of the loggers who was travelling in the truck's bed was 41 years old and had worked as a logger most of his adult life. He had attended many logger education classes and was considered fully trained.
UNSAFE ACT OR CONDITION: Two crew members were in the truck cab, and two were in the bed as the vehicle approached the feller buncher, which was operating next to the road. The feller buncher was clutching two freshly cut trees that were harvested from a recently frozen-over low area. The pickup truck stopped momentarily and then proceeded down the road, passing the feller buncher.
ACCIDENT: As the pickup truck passed the feller buncher, one of the trees broke off above the felling head. A four-inch limb struck one of the crew members who was travelling in the bed of the pickup truck.
INJURY: The logger received massive injuries and died instantly.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CORRECTIONS: Always observe the two tree-length rule: all personnel except the feller must remain at a distance from all felling operations of at least twice the height of trees being felled. The driver of the pickup should have awaited the signal of the feller buncher operator, that felling had ceased and that it was safe to approach, before proceeding.
Travel in a pickup truck bed, in which seats, seatbelts, and overhead protection are unavailable, is not safe.
OSHA requires the logging business owner to provide a safe workplace by enforcing the rule that "employees shall be spaced and the duties of each employee shall be organized so that the actions of one employee will not create a hazard for any other employee."
Minnesota Log Safe Program
Minnesota Dept. of Labor and Industry
P.O. Box 392
Hibbing, Minnesota 55719-0392
Paul M. Klocko
Lake States Technical Division Manager
Please follow equipment manufacturers' recommendations for safe operation and maintenance procedures.