Safety and OSHA News

Worker killed in wood chipper lost arm in earlier incident

Twenty-five years ago, a workplace incident caused an employee to lose an arm. He struggled to learn to use a prosthetic limb and return to the job that he loved. That perseverance and courage may have cost Henry Lira his life.

Lira, 60, an employee of Santa Cruz County, CA, was recently pulled into a wood chipper and died at the scene. An ambulance was canceled before it arrived.

But a quarter century ago, when he was working for the county, an incident claimed one of Lira’s arms and badly mangled the other.

Lira grabbed jumper cables out of the cab of a crane when its extension touched a nearby power line, badly shocking and burning him.

Because of severe burns, doctors thought they would have to amputate both of his arms, but they saved one with help from a transplanted toe.

Throughout his recovery, his goal was to get back to work. Lira had worked for the county since 1969.

That same job claimed his life on June 7.

The California Department of Industrial Relations is investigating.

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  1. Coltsfan George says:

    I really dont know how to comment on this article. It appears that negligence on his part was the cause of both accidents. I have never ran a wood chipper, but feel being pulled into a chipper would be extremly hard to do if attention to detail was in play. I have ran a crane in the past, and in my experience the only way the extension can touch power lines,is if one of the controls was moved. The extension control or the travel control.
    In any case, it is sad to see that a diligent worker has lost his life. My prays go out to his family.

  2. sheralroh says:

    Ok, how in God’s name did he manage to operate a chipper? Well I guess he didn’t do that job well. I would have thought he would have done some desk job after sustaining such terrible injuries. Sad.

  3. kimberly lira says:

    Ok, this is my father and horrendous catastrophe which took his life that is being commented on. It would be humane of people that comment to remember that he has family that read commentary. To speculate on his ability to operate any machinery would be exactly that, speculative. So to be so callous and rude, I only hope you never lose any family member in such an awful manner. You need prayer.

  4. sheralroh says:

    It would seem to me that the company should never had let him operate a chipper because he was already disabled from a previous injury. Why didn’t they give him an office job or a foreman job. This was an accident waiting to happen. I feel terrible and sad for your loss Kimberly. No one can make that hurt go away. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

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