A tree trimmer fell 35 feet from a tree while attempting a timed tree-rescue exercise.
How did it happen?
The tree trimmer was preparing to attempt a timed tree-rescue training exercise for certification and he was getting anxious because he had to perform the exercise in front of his co-workers.
To qualify for certification, he had to climb a 40-foot tree to a mannequin suspended in a climbing harness. Then, he had to tie into a climbing rope, secure the mannequin, and rappel from the tree with the mannequin in four minutes or less.
He began climbing with a split tail (and additional piece of rope that connects the climber to the climbing rope) already tied onto his climbing rope. When he got to the mannequin, the tree trimmer threw his climbing rope around the trunk of the tree with the split tail end, but it was not the way he usually did it. With the minutes ticking away, he got frustrated as he rushed to tie into the tree with the split tail and wasn’t able to do it. He untied the friction knot that connected the split tail to the climbing rope and retied it while he was still secured to the tree with a safety lanyard and climbing spurs. Finally, he secured the mannequin and removed his safety lanyard.
He sat back into his climbing line and descended about five feet when the friction knot at the end of the slip tail came loose and he free-fell to the ground, landing on his right upper leg and lower back.
The company safety director, who was leading the training exercise, and the tree trimmer’s co-workers immediately called 911, retrieved a first aid kit, and stayed with him until medical personnel arrived.
The tree trimmer was taken by ambulance to a local hospital where he was admitted and remained overnight; however, no one from the company reported the incident to Oregon OSHA until eight days later.