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Georgia Company's Failure to Protect Tree Trimmer from Traffic Earns Penalties

Failing to provide proper traffic safety controls for a tree trimming crew, which resulted in the death of one worker, could cost Asplundh Tree Expert Co. $42,000 in proposed penalties, according to citations issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

The fatal accident occurred March 28, as the Asplundh crew removed tree limbs from overhead power transmission lines along a winding, rural, two-lane road near Cumming, Ga. Because there was no room on the shoulder of the road, the company truck was parked in one lane of the road without any safety devices to warn approaching motorists.

As one of the two-person crew members worked near the front of the truck he was struck and killed by an oncoming vehicle.

"Our investigation found that this crew had not been provided with traffic safety equipment, such as signs or barricades, to place around the truck even though OSHA regulations and the company's safety procedures required their use," G.T. Breezley, OSHA Atlanta-East area director said.

The agency issued one serious citation with a proposed penalty of $7,000 for exposing employees to traffic hazards and one repeat citation with a proposed penalty of $35,000 for not providing employees with appropriate personal protective equipment such as high visibility reflective vests.

OSHA issues a repeat citation when an employer has been cited previously for a substantially similar condition and the citation has become a final order of the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission

The company has 15 working days to contest the OSHA citations and proposed penalties before the commission.

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