A 21-year-old tree trimmer employed by The Davey Tree Expert Co. was fatally injured after a utility task vehicle ran over him at a Claysburg, Pa., work site.
First Energy Service Co. contracted the Kent, Ohio-based company to trim trees and remove other vegetation along power transmission lines. A June 2014 investigation by OSHA found that the company willfully had put the employee and others at risk by using a UTV on a slope exceeding the 15-degree limit permitted by the UTV manufacturer. At the time of the incident, the vehicle was operating on a 20-degree hill, which allowed it to roll over and fatally injure the employee.
“This tragedy could have been prevented by simply complying with the manufacturer’s instructions,” said Christopher Robinson, director of OSHA’s Pittsburgh Area Office.
The company was cited for one willful violation under the Occupational Safety and Health Act’s general duty clause and was placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirement, or with plain indifference to employee safety and health.
“After a previous UTV rollover incident in central Pennsylvania in July 2012, Davey Tree acknowledged the UTV’s slope limitations and the hazardous conditions associated with operating the vehicle on rugged terrain,” said Robinson. “Even with this knowledge, Davey Tree continued to expose workers to dangerous rollovers and permitted UTV use on steep slopes.”
Davey Tree provides residential and commercial tree and landscape services throughout North America. The company employs approximately 7,000 employees. OSHA proposed a $70,000 penalty for this violation.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citation and penalty to comply, request an informal conference with Robinson or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.