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Idaho logger’s death in Boise National Forest prompts OSHA safety investigation

·3 min read

A federal workplace safety investigation is underway after the death last week of an Idaho logger who was working at a timber harvesting site in the Boise National Forest north of Garden Valley.

Trevor Menter, 30, of Council, was killed on the job on July 20, Boise County Chief Deputy Coroner Mike Johnson confirmed to the Idaho Statesman. Menter was part of a logging crew working on the West Scriver Creek Stewardship timber sale project within the Emmett Ranger District, according to an open Occupational Safety and Health Administration online inspection record.

A log was being pulled up a hill with a chain device known as a choker when it hit a stump and spun around, striking Menter in the chest, Johnson said. He died at the scene, Johnson said, and the cause was blunt-force trauma.

“It’s a tragic accident. The tree snagged on a stump and swung around and hit him,” Johnson said by phone. “Logging is a heavy equipment-type operation, and accidents happen. With all the safety, things still happen.”

Menter was employed by Council-based contractor Tom Mahon Logging, Inc., which was completing work on behalf of Tamarack Mill. The New Meadows-based sawmill and lumber transportation company is the purchaser of the West Scriver timber, according to a U.S. Forest Service spokesperson.

Mahon Logging posted on its Facebook page late last week about Menter’s death, sharing the company’s sadness over the loss of the hometown Adams County logger, and offering its condolences to those he leaves behind.

“We know the job we love is dangerous,” the Facebook post reads. “We can not begin to say how heartbroken we are. ... Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends. You will never be forgotten Trevor Menter, rest in peace.”

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OSHA, the federal agency that regulates workplace safety and health for the U.S. Department of Labor, has opened an investigation into Menter’s death. More information about that inquiry is not available while the investigation is ongoing, Jose Carnevali, acting regional spokesperson for the Department of Labor, told the Statesman by email.

Tom Mahon Logging has faced no OSHA enforcement actions or workplace investigations for at least the past two decades, Carnevali said.

Tamarack Mill, however, has been cited for 20 safety and health violations, including 11 labeled serious, during five OSHA investigations dating to 2013. The latest occurred in February, and Tamarack Mill has paid out more than $165,000 in settlement fines over the eight-year span.

A message left by a Statesman reporter with Tamarack Mill seeking comment from Lisbeth Edwards, the company’s timber sale accountant and office manager, was not returned Thursday.

An autopsy has been completed, Johnson said, but additional details about Menter’s death are not yet available. OSHA fatality investigations can take up to six months, Carnevali said.

Council has fewer than 1,000 residents and is the county seat for Adams County, which has a population of about 4,300. The rural county is located directly south of areas where logging is prominent, and where most of the state’s deaths related to the industry occur each year.

Logging consistently ranks as one of the most dangerous lines of work in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2019, the industry accounted for the nation’s second-highest rate of fatal injuries to workers, at about 69 deaths per 100,000 employees, a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics study shows.

The study indicates that Idaho experienced 36 total work-related deaths that same year, which is the most recent data available. Of that number, 10 were connected to the category that includes the agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting industries.

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