TREE STUCK IN FELLER-BUNCHER ACCUMULATOR ARMS
BACKGROUND: A logger was traveling with a tree in the accumulator arms of a rubber-tired feller-buncher. He was harvesting a mixed pine-hardwood stand in gently rolling terrain on a warm, dry, spring morning in the Appalachians.
PERSONAL CHARACTERISTICS: The feller-buncher operator was in his mid-50s, and he had been in the logging business for over 20 years. He was the owner of his logging company, and he was considered fully trained for his job. He was not wearing his seatbelt.
UNSAFE ACT AND CONDITIONS: As the feller-buncher backed down a slope while carrying an eight-inch-diameter hardwood tree, the base of the tree shifted and caught between the metal on the accumulator arms, preventing the operator from releasing the tree. The operator then moved the machine forward and across the slope in an attempt to release the tree. There were high stumps and logging debris in the feller-buncher's path.
ACCIDENT: The front wheel of the rubber-tired machine rode over a stump. The base of the tree sticking through the accumulator arm caught on the stump and caused the feller-buncher to tip over.
INJURY/DAMAGE: Fortunately the operator escaped injury, and the feller-buncher was not damaged.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CORRECTION: Be aware that trees in the accumulator arms significantly reduce stability by moving the machine's center of gravity forward and higher. Avoid running feller-bunchers cross-slope, over stumps, ruts, logging debris, etc. while carrying trees in the accumulator arms. Understand the operating limitations of the machine with respect to weight and balance.
The operator was fortunate that he was not injured when the machine turned over, considering that he was not wearing his seatbelt. OSHA logging regulations require that machine operators wear their seatbelts.
Appalachian Technical Division Forester
Please follow equipment manufacturers' recommendations for safe operation and maintenance procedures.