Worker Dies in Wood Chipper Accident

One of the most dangerous pieces of equipment that a worker can use is a wood chipper.

A tree trimmer died on the job when he somehow fell head first into a wood chipper in Chandler, Arizona. The worker was decapitated by the machine. The wood chipper contractor was using a standard pull-behind wood chipper, reported Fox News (9.18.14). State OSHA officials were investigating the tragic accident.

Fox News reported that the wood chipper was parked behind a truck used by the “Trim A Tree” service.

Tree trimming is one of the nation’s most dangerous occupations, with 14 deaths reported in 2013, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2012, there were 60 injury-related deaths reported for tree maintenance workers. Some of the most common causes of injuries involved falls, inadequate training, lack of protective equipment, working too close to power lines, and contact with objects and equipment like chainsaws, axes and wood chippers.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reported that the most commonly reported causes of serious chipper/ shredder accidents are being caught in moving parts and getting struck by a chipper/shredder’s hood while opening or closing it on a running machine. Injuries associated with operating and working around wood chippers include cuts, scrapes or amputations caused by being caught in machines, getting struck by falling/flying debris, and being injured from contact with the rotating blades inside the machine.

People who work around large, industrial machines frequently benefit from several layers of safety precautions designed to avoid workplace accidents. Unfortunately, wood chippers do not offer many safety features. People who do tree maintenance must be near enough to the machine to feed it with branches. Employees operating a wood chipper and those working in the area assisting the operators must be properly trained.

In the event of an accident in the workplace, New York workers compensation laws allows workers to seek financial compensation to help cover lost wages and medical bills for any work-related injuries or illnesses. Employees may receive workers’ compensation payment regardless of fault as long as the injury, illness or disability was related to work.

If a worker dies on the job from a compensable injury, the surviving spouse and-or the worker’s minor children are entitled to weekly cash benefits. If a worker without family dies, his or her estate may be eligible to receive a lump sum payment and money to cover funeral expenses. These death benefits are provided by New York workers’ compensation laws.

The Fox News story cited is “Police: Man decapitated in landscaping accident.”

For over 40 years, David H. Perecman has distinguished himself as one of the leading personal injury lawyers in New York City, championing all types of personal injury cases including construction accidents, premises accidents, automobile accidents, and medical malpractice, along with employment discrimination, false arrest, and civil rights cases.