Hand faller struck by portions of Hemlock snag

Location: 
Port Alberni Forest Operation (central Vancouver Island)
Date of Incident / Close Call: 
2012-02-20
Company Name: 
Western Forest Products Inc.
Details of Incident / Close Call: 

A hand Faller working on a heli block with a side-slope of 60% attempted to fall a 52” Hemlock danger tree. The Faller elected to fall the tree down-slope into an opening along the face. He had positioned himself close to the front of the tree to start his falling cuts; upon starting his first cut the tree failed. The Faller was struck by debris from the failing danger tree and sustained serious injuries, suffering fractures in both legs and was air-evacuated (heli) to hospital. The initial investigation has yet to determine what part of the failing tree struck the Faller.

Contributing Factors:

(1) Although the Faller was well intentioned towards removing the danger tree prior to falling adjacent trees, he did not adequately assess the stability & condition of the danger tree. The faller thought he was standing in a safe place to start the undercut; he did not expect the danger tree to instantaneously fail and did not expect to be struck by debris from the failing danger tree (see photos in attached pdf).

(2) Due to the Faller’s location at the base of the danger tree, and the immediate failure of the danger tree, the Faller did not have the opportunity to use the intended escape path.

Learnings and Suggestions: 

Learnings & Suggestions:

Prior to applying falling cuts to a dangerous tree, Fallers must complete an adequate assessment of the dangerous tree.

The Faller needs to determine: Can the danger tree withstand falling cuts?

  • IF NO, DO NOT HAND FALL. Call supervisor re alternate methods.
  • NOT SURE Seek qualified assistance (partner or supervisor) for a second opinion/set of eyes.
  • YES Determine the safest direction to fall the danger tree. Determine the safest place to stand while placing falling cuts. Ensure safe escape routes.
  • NEVER ASSUME A DANGER TREE IS SAFE TO HAND FALL. STOP, ASSESS, PLAN AND FOLLOW SAFE WORK PROCEDURES.

 

For more information on this submitted alert: 

For more information:

Kevin Somerville: 250-720-4204

Luke Martin: 250-715-7502

Terry Anonson: 250-203-0595

File attachments
Hand faller struck by portions of Hemlock snag.pdf
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