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Occupational Safety and Health Administration OSHA

Accident Report Detail

Accident: 747691 - Employee Killed In Fall From Tree

Accident: 747691 -- Report ID: 0933800 -- Event Date: 02/06/1989
InspectionOpen DateSICEstablishment Name
10606265602/22/19890783Timberline Tree Service
At approximately 12:30 p.m. on February 6, 1989, Employee #1, who was both a climber and foreman, and two coworkers who were ground men, were removing a large limb from an oak tree on a steep bank behind a private residence on a clear cool day. The homeowner wanted it removed because it had grown over the rear patio. The crew had already removed all of the limbs, a section at a time, except for one section that was about 5 ft long and 18 in. in diameter at the base where it extended from the trunk of the tree. Employee #1 had been using two ropes: a safety line attached at one end to his climber's harness and at the other end to another limb above the branch that was being removed; and a second line to support the limb sections as they were cut off. This second line was tied onto the same branch that the safety line was tied to. Employee #1 then made three errors. As he removed the branch a section at a time, he moved closer to the base of the limb; however, he failed to move his safety line each time he moved, leaving the rope secured to the outer end of the overhead branch. As a result, when he moved in toward the trunk, his safety line became increasingly longer. In addition, he attempted to rope and then cut off the base section of the limb in one piece, which may have weighed from 600 lb to 800 lb. Finally, he stood on the section of the limb that he was cutting off, apparently intending to jump clear of the branch when it gave way. When he did cut through the limb, his weight, combined with the weight of the limb section, was more than the overhead branch could support. The upper branch, to which both he and the limb section were roped, snapped at its base and fell, causing Employee #1 to fall, swinging on the safety rope in a downward arc until he collided with the side of the homeowner's house. Employee #1 was hospitalized for 10 days before he died of his injuries, which included a fractured skull, neck, and ribs. The investigation revealed that Employee #1 had received adequate training and supervision and that the procedure that he was following was contrary to training. The two ground men were the only witnesses.
Keywords: fracture, work rules, overloaded, collision, skull, fall, tie-off, tree trimming, unstable position
Employee # Inspection Age Sex Degree Nature Occupation
1 106062656 Fatality Fracture Occupation not reported

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