Quebec’s workplace health and safety commission (CNESST) released a report to today on their investigation into the work accident that resulted in the death of Claude Gravelle, owner of L’Entreprise forestière Claude Gravelle S.E.N.C. The incident took place on June 1 of this year on a private lot on L’Île-du-Grand-Calumet.
Chronology of the accident
The report states that on the day of the accident, Gravelle was working on a logging site on private land. He was manually felling trees with his chainsaw in a cedar grove. While waiting for the cable skidder to return, he felled a cedar, which became entangled with another tree. In an effort to bring it to the ground, he began cutting a black spruce tree that was less than a yard away, using a directional cut to aim it at the hung-up cedar. After completing the cuts, the spruce bowed, but ended up leaning on the entangled trees. Gravelle moved on to making cuts on other trees in the area. The hung-up trees came loose while he had his back to them, and the spruce fell on him. When the operator of the cable skidder returned, he found Gravelle on the ground, unconscious. Emergency services were called and his death was declared on site.
Cause of the accident
The CNESST report states that Gravelle’s directional felling techniques as well as him continuing to work in the danger zone of two hung-up trees exposed him to unnecessary risk. Following the accident, the CNESST banned all manual felling on the site, and the ban is still in effect.
Steps to avoid another accident
To prevent other such accidents on forestry sites, the CNESST report suggests:
using felling techniques outlined in the CNESST guide and establishing a safe felling plan
using machinery such as a skidder when dealing with a hung-up tree
isolating an area where there is a hung-up tree, so that no one can enter until it is on the ground
The CNESST will forward the findings of the investigation to the Joint Forestry Sector Prevention Committee so that its members are informed
The report will be distributed in training establishments offering the Felling and Woodworking and Manual Felling and Logging and Logging programs of study in order to raise awareness among future workers.
The full report from the CNESST is available here