Citations issued by OSHA to a New York state company after one of its employees was pulled into a wood chipper on his first day on the job have been affirmed by an administrative law judge with the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
OSHA’s investigation revealed that Tony Watson - doing business as Countryside Tree Service - directed the employee to feed materials into the wood chipper, knowing that he had not trained the employee on how to do so safely. The fatality occurred at a worksite in Schenectady, New York.
OSHA cited Watson for five violations of workplace safety standards on November 2, 2016. Watson contested the citations to the OSHRC leading to a trial in October 2017. The judge found that Watson willfully permitted the victim to work with the wood chipper without proper safety training, in spite of Watson’s knowledge of the need for such training.
The judge’s decision also orders the employer to pay $66,986 in penalties.
“The U.S. Department of Labor pursues appropriate legal actions to ensure that employers comply with the law to safeguard their employees against potentially deadly or disabling workplace hazards,” said Regional Solicitor of Labor Jeffrey S. Rogoff.
OSHA’s Albany Area Office conducted the original inspection. Senior Trial Attorney Terrence Duncan from the Department’s Regional Office of the Solicitor in New York litigated the case. View the decision here.
OSHA’s Tree Care Industry webpage offers resources on recognizing and preventing tree care hazards, including Hazards of Wood Chippers, and Solutions for Tree Care Hazards.
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