According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), fatalities caused by falls from elevation continue to be a leading cause of death for construction employees, accounting for 366 of the 971 construction fatalities recorded in 2017 (BLS data). Those deaths were preventable.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the top five life-threatening jobs are:
- Commercial fishermen
- Aircraft pilots and flight engineers
- Farmers and ranchers
- Police officers
We estimate that arborists would fall somewhere between loggers and aircraft pilots/fight engineers, but because BLS only provides data for a “tree trimmers and pruners” job category in their findings, the data is not inclusive of the entire arboricultural industry and thus isn’t tracked for fatalities.
TCIA estimates that 200,000-300,000 workers are active in the arboriculture profession in the United States. That’s 200,000-300,000 people who could be at risk of falling from height.
TCIA tracks accident and fatality reports using a variety of sources. In a recent educational event with OSHA’s Region 1 (New England), our data showed 15 falls resulting in fatalities between the years of 2010 and 2018. In this particular region, falls came second to fatalities as a result of contact with electricity. Imagine this on a national scale.
With the right training, many falls in this industry can be prevented. TCIA’s Best Practices for Crane Use in Arboriculture manual and our Tree Care Academy programs, including Aerial Lift Specialist, Compact Lift Specialist and Tree Climber Specialist, are great tools for learning how to safety work at height. More information about these products can be found in the TCIA Shop.
This year, we hope you will consider holding a series of tailgate meetings during National Safety Stand-Down Week to discuss safety equipment inspections, developing rescue plans, or discussing job specific hazards.