The tragic death of a Kenosha tree service employee who was pulled through a wood chipper after using his foot to dislodge a log jammed in the machine raises questions about product liability, but underscores once again the importance of employee training about the dangers of working around machinery.
Five co-workers frantically tried to depress a safety bar that was supposed to reverse the chipper’s teeth, but it failed to engage, raising questions about the adequacy of the product’s design and whether the machine was properly maintained in safe working condition.
The episode underscores that product designers must anticipate foreseeable misuse. Another tree service business owner was quoted as saying that “Sanders wasn’t doing anything others in the tree service industry haven’t done while on the job. If someone in this business says they haven’t used their foot to free a log, they’d be lying.”