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Limb Injures Chain Saw Operator While Delimbing

Safety Alert

By Forest Resources Assn.
Date Posted: 2/1/2006


        A member of a three-man logging crew was manually delimbing a tree several yards from the deck on a sunny fall day in the South.

Personal Characteristics

        The 25-year-old had worked for his employer for about three months. He had never received formal training on delimbing trees. His boss considered ‘on-the-job-training’ the best type of training for his employees. Although he was new at the job, the worker attempted to perform all tasks safely.

Unsafe Act or Condition

        The worker began delimbing a tree that initially appeared easy to work on, so he gave it a quick glance. He positioned himself behind a branch and began cutting on the edge of the limb furthest from him. He failed to notice that the end of the limb was bent forward and underneath the trunk of the tree, under considerable tension.


        As he cut the limb, it snapped backwards and hit his right leg just above the knee.


        The limb broke his thigh bone and shattered his knee. He spent over 10 months in therapy and eventually returned to work, although not in logging. He is limited to performing tasks that do not require long periods of standing.


1. OSHA requires all logging employees to undergo thorough training on recognition and avoidance of hazards for any logging task to which they are assigned prior to beginning work.

2. Trees should be closely inspected prior to delimbing, and workers should position themselves such that no limb or branch, or movement of the trunk, will cause injury.

3. To release the tension in spring poles, with a chain saw carefully shave off fiber from the underside of the spring pole at the point of greatest tension, such that the limb weakens and the tension releases slowly.


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