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Bull Run Snag Incident — August, 2009

Rattle Fire Snag Incident — September, 2008

Camel Hump Falling Incident, Facilitated Learning Analysis — July, 2008

Washington Logger Fatality — April, 1998

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Issue Paper #12, Felling Boss Training — January, 1996

State of Washington, Department of Labor and Industries seal Safety & Health Assessment & Research for Prevention logo

Fatality Investigation Report: Tree Faller Struck by Tree

Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE)
Safety & Health Assessment & Research for Prevention
Washington State Department of Labor and Industries

Report #52-2-99

Logger Killed when Struck by Top of Falling Tree, which was Felled by an Adjacent Cutter, in Washington State.

Investigation: #98WA07601
Release Date: April 30, 1999
(download PDF report, 18 pages, 360 kb)

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Introduction >>>


On April 10, 1998, a Friday morning, the victim went to work at the current logging site. This particular logging team consisted of three persons, including the victim. They started work at approximately 7:00 AM, their usual starting time.

The stand of trees was situated on a moderate slope, averaging about 20-25 degrees. The stand of trees sloped from the east at it's highest point, to the west and south at it's lowest point. The logging team was cutting and advancing along the slope, in a northwesterly direction (see figures 1 and 2).

The weather was clear and dry; there were no adverse environmental conditions, such as rain or fog or similar issues to complicate the days’ logging activities.

In establishing their work areas for that particular day, one of the more experienced cutters (tree faller #3) was situated up slope, working the northeast section of the tree stand. The least experienced logger (tree faller #1), who cut the tree resulting in the fatality, was working the middle of the slope, and the victim was working the lower side of the slope.

At approximately 10:55 AM, the cutter (tree faller #1) working the middle of the slope, had just completed a cut on a Douglas Fir, estimated to be about 115-125 feet tall. Instead of falling in a northwesterly direction as intended, the tree fell in a south/ southwesterly direction, toward the location of the lower positioned tree faller #3 (the victim) (see figure 3).

As it fell, the tree struck one or two other standing trees. Several sections of the top of the felled tree broke off and fell to the ground.

When the victim became aware that the felled tree was falling in his direction, he tried to escape.

One of the broken top sections (about 20 feet long, with a diameter of about 12 inches at its thickest point) struck the victim before he was able to escape the danger area. The victim was approximately 110 feet from the stump of the incident-causing tree.

It is unclear whether any warning signal was given. WISHA's interview with the cutters indicated that no warning was sounded when the tree was ready to fall.

The local emergency squad was called via radio to respond to the incident. A helicopter rescue unit was summoned due to the remoteness and difficulty in reaching the scene. The response time was roughly about 25 - 30 minutes. A land-based rescue unit also responded and it took them approximately 1.5 hours to get to the perimeter of the incident site. The victim died at the scene.


The medical examiner listed the cause of death as a laceration of the aorta and multiple skeletal fractures due to blunt impact to the head and trunk.

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