12-S-04: Log Truck Driver Injured while Trimming Load




The owner-operator of a tractor-trailer log truck in the Northeast was having his truck loaded with tree-length wood. It was a fall day, clear and cool. Weather was not a factor.


The driver had over 5 years of experience and was considered fully trained as a log truck driver. It is unknown if he had received training in chain saw use. It is unknown what, if any, personal protective equipment was in use.


The weight of the load caused the top of one tree to drop below the log bunk, becoming wedged between the dual trailer tires. The driver bent down beneath the loaded trailer and reached in with a chain saw to cut the top of the lodged tree to clear it from the wheels.


Before the saw completed the cut, the stem, under tension, snapped, striking the driver in the side of the head.


The driver suffered a fractured skull, bleeding and swelling. The loader operator drove the injured driver out of the woods to meet an ambulance which transported him to a regional medical center. The driver lost over one month of work. 


• Loader operators and drivers should monitor and correct problems with stem placement while loading.

• If a problem with the load is discovered after loading is complete, correct it by unloading down to the problem point and then making the necessary adjustment.

• Cutting any tree under tension is a high-risk operation. If a chain saw must be used to correct a problem with a loaded stem under tension, or any other trimming on a load of wood, proper chain saw safety training is a must.

• Consider installing wheel guards over wheels on open bunk trailers to minimize the risk of material dropping in between tires.


Reviewed by: Joel Swanton Northeast Region Manager