249348 Worker fatalities involving wood chippers: Causes and prevention. The California fatality assessment and control evaluation (FACE) program

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Laura Styles, MPH , Occupational Health Branch, CA Department of Public Health/Public Health Institute, Richmond, CA
Background: The California Department of Public Health, in collaboration with NIOSH, has established the California Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (CA/FACE) program for the surveillance and investigation of fatal work injuries. The goal of the CA/FACE program is to prevent fatal work injuries by identifying high-risk work processes, developing prevention strategies, and informing those who can intervene in the workplace. Nationally, 73 deaths were attributable to mobile wood chippers from 1992-2009, with 8 deaths reported in 2009.

Methods: The CA/FACE program uses multiple sources of notification to identify traumatic occupational fatalities. Cases are currently chosen for investigation in the following categories: falls in residential and commercial construction; machinery; oil and gas extraction and renewable energy production; and fatalities among foreign-born workers. Investigations identify risk factors, prevention recommendations, and set priorities for research efforts.

Results: Over the past 10 years, CA/FACE has investigated four chipper fatalities: three workers were pulled into or compressed by the machine while feeding in brush; and one worker died when his head hit against the feed table after he became entangled in a tree trimmer's drop line that was accidentally fed into the machine.

Conclusions: These investigations have demonstrated important prevention measures to prevent wood chipper fatalities. These include: never operating a wood chipper alone; using a push stick, and standing to the side of the feed table when feeding trimmings into the chipper; ensuring employers are trained and tested in the machine's operation; and checking brush for foreign objects before feeding debris into the chipper.

Learning Areas:
Occupational health and safety

Learning Objectives:
Identify hazards unique to wood chippers List chipper fatality prevention recommendations

Keywords: Occupational Injury and Death, Prevention

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to be an abstract author because I am the program manager of the Calfornia Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation program.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.