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Disturbing Trend In PA Woodlot Fatalities

Posted: March 27, 2014

From 2008 to 2012, seventy-three (73) Pennsylvanians lost their lives in woodlot incidents.

Although the 2013 data has not been completed, it appears that the same activities that have proved fatal in the past have continued.

Felling of trees is the leading type of activity resulting in a fatality in the woodlot with nearly 40% of the deaths. The average age of those killed by falling trees is 47 years. Continuing to rank second (nearly 20% of the total) as a cause of death is the use of the farm tractor in the woods. These victims averaged 66 years. Falls from equipment or from the tree ranks third in the cause (15%) with an average age of 65 years. The final report on agricultural fatalities during 2013 will be released by late spring.

Noting this trend, Penn State Ag Safety and Health specialists suggest these precautions.

  • Understand that the farm tractor is not suited to safely be taken over the uneven terrain of the woodlot and to pull logs over and around the obstacles found in the woods.
  • Evaluate each tree for where it will fall given that each tree is unique in its form.
  • Plan at least two escape routes before felling a tree. Clear the area to make the escape safe.
  • Evaluate nearby trees and limbs that could be impacted by the tree being felled.
  • Work only from ground level where possible; use a safety harness and secure attachment point should the work need to be done above ground level.
  • Communicate with fellow workers as to what the felling procedure will be and where each person is to be located as the tree is felled.

See Tractors in the Woods for additional helpful safety hints.