Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Wood chipper fatalities

Perusing the weird news this morning, I was saddened to hear about yet another accidental death by wood chipper - this time James Vician, 37, while working yesterday in Atwood, Indiana. While this end is the stuff of laughs in films like "Fargo," and all-too-real murderers have been known to dispose of their victims by sending them through the chipper, the simple accident while on the job is horrific enough - and far too common. Here is just a sampling:
There have been dozens of deaths and nearly 200 accidents in the last 20 years due to chippers, which can swallow a 20" branch in 1 second. The most common mistakes made by tree care workers are to wear gloves or loose clothing that can get snagged on a branch, to stand in front rather than on the side of the intake, and to use a foot to kick a stubborn piece of wood or untangle a jam in the feed tray. OSHA has also identified the issues and recommended training, and wood chipper manufacturers have put a number of different safety devices in place, including feed control bars, feed tray extensions, flaps or curtains, and emergency pull ropes. But in the end, extreme caution is needed when working with these monstrous machines to avoid what coroners have called "complete morselization."

*The coroner who investigated this case is named Kevin Quigley - no relation.

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