Occupational tree felling fatalities: 2010–2020

Judd Michael, Serap Gorucu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Logging and landscape work are among the most hazardous occupations, and one of the most dangerous tasks in these occupations is tree felling. While much research has been conducted to examine fatalities from logging and landscape services, there is a dearth of research looking specifically at tree felling. There is a need to focus on hazards associated with tree felling activities so that proactive prevention strategies can be developed. Methods: An Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) database was used to identify occupational tree-felling fatalities in the United States during the period from 2010 through the first half of 2020. We compared data for the two industry segments of logging and landscaping services. Results: There were 314 fatalities over the period. The victims were overwhelmingly male with the median age being 43. Struck-by was the number one event type causing fatalities, with the head being the number one body part involved in fatalities. Falls from elevation was the only event type significantly different between the logging and landscaping industries. Poor decision-making is noted as a key component of fatal incidents, but bystanders were fatally injured due to the actions of others. Conclusions: Tree felling is one of the most hazardous activities for both loggers and commercial landscapers and is a common cause of fatalities; significant differences in events and source are encountered in those two occupations. Loggers should continue efforts to adopt mechanized harvesting methods. Landscape services tree fellers should receive training related to fall prevention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)969-977
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Industrial Medicine
Volume64
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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