The tree care industry can be very hazardous, exposing workers to falls and falling objects, as well as transportation, electrocution and crushing hazards. A new OSHA hazard bulletin on tree care work is the first in a series of guidance materials for employers about the dangers to workers.
"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," said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. "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 his employer should have prevented him from being in the tree trimming area or "drop zone." In the other, 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 this 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, which include:
- 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
To learn more about tree care worker safety, visit OSHA's Tree Care Industry Web page.