Before reviewing our February 2014 Accident Briefs, we’d like to call attention to an unfortunate and highly-publicized tree care accident that happened Monday.
A tree trimmer was hospitalized with a chain saw wedged in his neck. The victim, James Valentine, was reportedly in a tree in Ross Township, PA on Monday afternoon when he was struck in the neck by the saw. Another worker helped him down, and his coworkers left the saw in place to try to limit the bleeding.
Valentine had emergency surgery at Allegheny General Hospital. Doctors say the saw missed major arteries and instead cut into muscle. On Tuesday, the hospital released an X-ray, pictured right, showing the saw still embedded in the 21-year-old’s neck.
“Our thoughts are with this young arborist for a very speedy recovery and return to his chosen career,” said Peter Gerstenberger, Senior Advisor to the President for Safety, Standards and Compliance at the Tree Care Industry Association. “TCIA strongly suspects this accident involved the one-handed use of a chain saw. One-handed chain saw use is epidemic in the industry, despite being forbidden by industry safety standards.”
“Arborists need to understand that for every conceivable situation in which one-handed chain saw use may be rationalized or justified, there ARE alternatives that will get the work done just as efficiently and just as quickly,” Gerstenberger continued. “We’re working on the details to be able to communicate these ‘work-arounds’ to the industry in the very near future.”
In follow-up interviews, Valentine seemed to be "doing well" and, after numerous stiches and staples, was released from the hospital. He is expected to return to work within a week or two.
Click here to read more about the incident, and to view related video footage from USA Today.
Photo Credit: Associated Press/Allegheny Health Network
February 2014 Accident Briefs
TCIA encourages our members (and all tree care companies) to review the incidents and consider using them as a basis for, or incorporation into, a tailgate safety meeting. We hope that these unfortunate incidents will help to remind tree care workers of how critical safety is in the tree care industry, and that accidents can happen to anyone, even seasoned employees.
Below are some brief accident excerpts from the most recent issue of TCI Magazine:
California tree worker electrocuted by power line
A tree worker was electrocuted February 17, 2014, in Malibu, California, after touching a live electrical wire while up in a tree. Authorities received a call reporting an unconscious man stuck in a tree 25 feet above the ground. After being lowered, the man was pronounced dead at the scene.
The unidentified Hispanic male was 50 years old, lived in the San Fernando Valley, but was from El Salvador and not known to have family in the United States, according to a report in The Malibu Times.
Homeowner killed in struck-by
A homeowner man was killed February 19, 2014, in Summerville, South Carolina, when a tree limb fell and struck him on the head while he was doing yard work. Jason Couch, 43, was doing yard work at his home in the Legends Oaks neighborhood when a tree limb fell out of a tree and struck him. Cause of death was brain injury due to blunt force trauma to the head.
Officials say Couch was by himself when the incident happened, and was found by his wife when she arrived back home with their two children, according to a WCSC Live 5 News report.
Florida tree service employee electrocuted
A tree service company employee was electrocuted on the job February 8, 2014, in St. Petersburg, Florida. St. Petersburg Fire and Rescue found the man, approximately 50 years old, hanging from a tree. He had come in contact with a power line.
Fire rescue crews had to retrieve the motionless man from 35 to 40 feet in the air, where he was hanging from his safety harness. The man was in cardiac arrest, and was treated and transported to Bayfront Medical Center where he later died, according to a Bay News 9 report.
- For a comprehensive list of January 2013 Accident Briefs, read the latest issue of TCI Magazine online here.
- You can also visit the Accident Briefs archive on TCIA.org here and subscribe to our weekly Fatality & Near Miss Rescue Alert e-blast here.
- Do you have a tree care related accident to report? Submit it to firstname.lastname@example.org for publication.
- If you are not sure how to use this information for safety training, or if you want to learn about TCIA’s safety training programs, call TCIA directly at 1-800-733-2622.