Preventing Wood Chipper Deaths

Antonio Barajas, 33, died last year after being thrown against a wood chipper, leaving behind his wife and four-month-old son. A tree trimmer’s climbing rope, which became entangled in branches fed into the wood chipper, snapped tight, sending Barajas into the machine.

Barajas was one of nearly 200 grounds maintenance workers who die on the job every year in the United States, many of whom are Latino or Hispanic. About a quarter of those deaths involve contact with wood chippers or other equipment or objects.

The factors that led to Barajas’ tragic workplace fatality are the subject of a new four-minute video, CDPH/FACE: Preventing wood chipper fatalities, produced by the California Department of Public Health. In the video, a fatality investigator, assisted by co-workers who were there during the fatal event, recreates the events, explaining the hazards that contributed to Barajas’ death and how to avoid them. The video includes prevention recommendations and demonstrations on how to work safely around wood chippers. Scroll down to watch the video.

The video is the first “digital story” produced by FACE — the California Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation program in the Occupational Health Branch of the California Department of Public Health. It supplements other FACE materials highlighting wood chipper fatality investigation findings.