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.