On June 16, OSHA issued a hazard bulletin about preventing worker fatalities from falls and falling objects in tree care work.
The hazard bulletin (available online here) 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 second, a worker fell 65 feet when the trunk of the tree he was working in snapped in half. OSHA determined that the employer could have prevented this incident by performing a preliminary examination of the tree before starting work.
"OSHA's new hazard bulletin on tree care hazards is both timely and very relevant," says Peter Gerstenberger, Senior Advisor for Safety, Compliance & Standards for Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA). "Our industry is well aware of the hazards, and our accident statistics illustrate over and over again that the three leading causes of fatal accidents are falls from heights, struck-by incidents and electrocution."
OSHA's hazard bulletin stresses all three of these hazards, and the measures it suggests to mitigate these hazards come straight from the industry's consensus safety standard, ANSI Z133.
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 to 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
Anyone seeking more information on safety and accidents within the tree care industry should review TCIA's Five Year Analysis of Tree Care Accidents, available online here.
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