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OSHA Cites Company After Tree Trimming Fatality

OSHA cited Asplundh Tree Expert Co. for safety violations and proposed penalties totaling $41,000 following the\r\ninvestigation of a Jan. 30, fatal accident at an Oak Hill, Fla., job\r\nsite.

OSHA cited Asplundh Tree Expert Co. for eight serious safety violations and proposed penalties totaling $41,000 following the investigation of a Jan. 30 fatal accident at an Oak Hill, Fla., job site.

The accident occurred when one of a three-member work crew removing tree branches climbed into an aerial lift and began operating the controls.

The worker -- not facing the direction of the lift -- was electrocuted when he came in contact with overhead power lines.

OSHA cited the company for: permitting unauthorized employees to operate aerial lifts; failing to have a designated employee observe an aerial lift and give timely warning before the lift gets too close to power lines, and failing to provide proper safety training to employees.

OSHA defines a serious violation as one in which there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and that the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.

"Nationwide, this company has been inspected 200 times in the past 10 years, 43 times because of accidents," James Borders, OSHA''s Jacksonville area director said. "Too many workers in Florida are being injured and killed because of unsafe work practices that are easily corrected."

In 2000, in order to address the high number of fatalities in the state related to contact with energized overhead power lines, OSHA launched a local emphasis program.

The program follows extensive outreach activities with an equally extensive inspection and enforcement effort.

Jupiter, Fla.-based Asplundh Tree Expert Co. had 27 workers at this job site and employs 21,000 nationwide.

The company has 15 working days to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

by Virginia Foran

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