Tree trimming companies should perform hazard assessments before allowing a worker to begin a task, according to investigators who looked into the electrocution death of a tree trimmer working in the backyard of a private residence.

The incident in California was unwitnessed, but occurred while the tree trimmer was trimming palm trees that were in close proximity to a utility power pole and high voltage lines.

The state Fatality and Assessment Control Evaluation (FACE) report notes that “it is likely that a trimmed palm frond contacted the high voltage line and conducted electricity to and through the victim.” The CA/FACE investigator determined that, in order to prevent similar future incidents, tree trimming companies and palm tree trimmers should:

  • Ensure that a proper job hazard assessment and briefings are performed prior to starting work by a qualified tree worker who can assess the hazards, including electrical hazards.
  • Ensure that a qualified line clearance tree worker is used when tree trimming is within 10 feet of energized high voltage power lines.
  • In addition, homeowners and property management companies who need palm trees trimmed or removed should:
  • Hire only tree workers who are trained or certified by organizations such as the TreeCare Industry Association (TCIA) or the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA).

A Tree Trimmer is Electrocuted While Trimming a Palm Tree – CaliforniaCdc-pdf [PDF 348 KB]