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    "The fight is never about grapes or lettuce. It is always about people."
    Cesar Chavez

    :: Friday, September 15, 2006 ::

    Sloppy safety practices blamed in faller's death - By Gordon Hamilton, Vancouver Sun
    The sequence of events that led up to faller Ted Gramlich's death on a steep slope near Nanoose Bay on Vancouver Island on Nov. 19, 2005:
    1. Difficult tree: Between noon and 12:30 p.m., Gramlich is trying to fall a tricky tree on an 89 degree slope. It leans one way but must be dropped in the opposite direction, so a wedge is needed. Conditions are "extremely hazardous."
    2. Undercut: Standards call for an undercut into the back side of the tree, but not more than a quarter of the way through. Gramlich's undercut is twice as deep as mandated for safety, leaving little "holding" wood to control its fall.
    3. Wedge: Gramlich inserts a wedge that should act to push the tree over. The wood where he inserts it is rotten and the technique fails.
    4. Second Tree: Gramlich selects a similar sized, second tree 13 feet away that he will cut down so it falls on Tree 1, pushing it over and taking both down. It is of the proper size and should do the job.
    5. Hung Up: The cuts in Tree 2 are later found not to align with Tree 1. It does not hit Tree 1 squarely and becomes hung up, failing to push the first tree over. This situation is regarded as an "extreme hazard."
    6. Options: Standard solutions are to (a) seek assistance from a partner or supervisor or (b) find a third large tree - which were present in a suitable location close by - and drop it into the first two. Gramlich does neither.
    7. Stuck: The faller returns to the base of Tree 1, likely so he can cut through the holding wood and free both it and Tree 2. His chainsaw becomes stuck when the tree leans back. Gramlich's spare saw is at the spot uphill where he was dropped off by truck that morning.
    8. Axe: Gramlich uses his axe to try to free the chainsaw bar. He removes the power head from the chainsaw. He stands uphill of Tree 1 with a rock bluff behind him. In this position, he is without an escape route.
    9. Disaster: After six cuts with the axe, the holding wood on Tree 1's stump breaks off. Tree 1 falls downhill. Tree 2 is released and falls toward Gramlich.
    10. He Is Struck: The faller leans back against the rock bluff to avoid the falling tree. It strikes him on the head, chest, groin and legs and comes to rest a few feet above the ground. Gramlich rolls under it.
    After missing his 12:30 p.m. radio check Gramlich was located by another faller at approximately 1 p.m. He was evacuated by helicopter and pronounced dead in the Duncan hospital at 4:06 p.m.
    © The Vancouver Sun 2006
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