2014-05-26 - Chokerman

Safety Alert Type: 
Yarding and Loading
Date of Incident / Close Call: 
Company Name: 
BC Forest Safety Council
Details of Incident / Close Call: 

Fatality Alert

On May 26th, a chokerman was fatally injured while working on a cable yarding operation west of Nelson, in the Kootenays. The skyline cable contacted a leave tree in the block and caused it to fall and strike the worker.

This is the first direct harvesting related fatality of 2014. Our condolences go out to the family and co-workers of the deceased worker.

WorkSafeBC and the Coroner’s Service are investigating this incident and the results will be released as soon as possible. However, some general information about the incident and the site conditions are known.

Learnings and Suggestions: 

The following recommendations are suggested best practices for cable yarding operations where leave trees are retained. They are taken from two useful resource books that are listed below.

Leave Tree Retention:

  • All leave trees should be windfirm, healthy and not have hazardous defects such as large dead limbs or tops.
  • Special attention should be paid to trees located along the yarding corridor to ensure that they are free of hazards and have a stable root system. Immediately remove trees that have become unstable.

Yarding Corridors:

  • All lines should run freely and not contact any standing timber. Skylines striking trees along corridors can create overhead hazards such as broken limbs and tops.
  • In this incident, contact from the skyline caused the leave tree to fall. The reasons why the skyline contacted the leave tree are unknown at this time and are still being investigated. However, correct positioning of the carriage and skyline and selecting turns that are not too heavy are important during lateral yarding operations to avoid unsafe movement of the skyline. The limbing and bucking of logs that are being laterally yarded can help prevent hang ups. Logs should not be powered out of a hang-up position.

Staying In the Clear:

  • In the clear means:
    • In the logged area, if possible
    • Behind and to the side of the turn
    • Clear of swinging logs – 2 log lengths away
    • Out of the bight
  • Potential hazards for rigging crews include runaway logs, root wads or rocks. Turns of logs can swing or up-end and workers should be positioned 2 log lengths away and behind the turn.
  • Leave trees can be dislodged by moving lines, swinging logs or strong winds. When locating safe zones in areas with leave trees, consider the height of the leave trees and the potential for a domino effect where one falling tree knocks down another. The safe zone may be two tree lengths away from the at risk leave trees in these situations.
  • Crews should not work in the bight of moving lines or near rigged spar trees.


  1. WorkSafeBC’s Cable Yarding Systems Handbook
  2. Partial-cutting Safety Handbook – Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations


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