OSHA Hazard Bulletin Details Tree-Trimming Hazards and Safety Measures

OSHA Hazard Bulletin Details Tree-Trimming Hazards and Safety Measures

OSHA has issued a bulletin about the hazards of tree-care work, focusing on preventing worker fatalities from falls and falling objects.

OSHA has issued a bulletin about the hazards of tree-care work, focusing on preventing worker fatalities from falls and falling objects.

“Too many tree-care workers are being hurt or killed by well-known industry dangers that can be prevented if employers take the necessary precautions,” OSHA Administrator Dr. David Michaels said. “Employers have a responsibility to ensure workers are protected on the job – this includes providing training and making sure workers have the right tools to stay safe.”

The hazard bulletin details two fatal tree-care incidents, one caused by a fall and the other by a falling object.

In the first, OSHA’s investigation found that the employer should have prevented the worker from being in the tree-trimming area or “drop zone.”

In the other incident, a worker fell 65 feet when the trunk of the tree he was working on snapped in half. OSHA determined that the employer could have prevented the incident by performing a preliminary examination of the tree before starting work.

The bulletin also lists safety precautions for employers to use before they begin any tree-care operations:

  • Assess the worksite for fall and falling-object hazards.
  • Have a qualified arborist survey the worksite.
  • Determine if workers will need to climb or use aerial lifts.
  • Establish drop zones where there is a hazard of falling objects.
  • Take steps to protect workers from falling-object hazards.
  • Establish visual and audible communications with overhead and ground workers.
  • Have emergency procedures in place.

OSHA noted that it has initiated local and regional emphasis programs that focus on reducing workplace fatalities in the tree-trimming industry. Emphasis programs are underway in Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, the District of Columbia, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio and Illinois.

More information on the tree-care industry can be found at www.osha.gov/treecare.

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