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Safety Alert: Deckhand Hurt When He Bucks Log Held by Loader

After trees were felled in the woods, a deckhand bucked them near a track loader. When the he cut the end of the log, it fell to the ground and struck him in the left lower leg.

By Staff
Date Posted: 5/1/2009


            On a cold winter day in the Appalachians, a deckhand was bucking large diameter trees that were about 60 feet long. The terrain was steep and mountainous, and the ground was covered by three inches of snow.

            After the trees were felled in the woods, the logs were carried by helicopter to a pre-deck area. A grapple skidder dragged the trees to the log deck, and the deckhand bucked them near a track loader.


Personal Characteristics

            The deckhand was 26 and had been employed with the logging crew for about four years. He was considered fully trained, had no previous accident history and was wearing all appropriate personal protective equipment.


Unsafe Act or Condition

   The deckhand was working too close to the track loader. In fact, the deckhand was bucking a log that was being held by the loader’s grapple. He was using his chainsaw at about waist level to cut the end of the log, which had butt rot and swell.



            When the deckhand cut the end of the log, it fell to the ground and struck him in the left lower leg.



            The deckhand suffered an open fracture of the two bones in his left lower leg. He needed surgery to install stainless steel pins and hardware for healing and recovery. The medical costs were over $130,000, and he lost four months of work.



            1.         Deckhands and other on-the-ground employees should maintain a safe working distance from the loader and other equipment.

            2.         Employees should recognize the hazard of a log dropping and striking or rolling into a deckhand during bucking and devise a plan to avoid the hazard.

            3.         Chainsaw operators should never buck a log that is lifted off the ground by a loader’s grapple.

            (Source: Forest Resources Assn.)


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