OSHA Releases Hazard Bulletin for Tree Care Workers
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued a hazard bulletin to tree care workers, warning them to avoid falls and falling objects on the job.
The hazard bulletin contained details from two fatal tree care accidents: in the first a case, a worker trimming limbs accidentally killed his coworker when a sizeable portion of branch fell on the man.
After an investigation, OSHA representatives found that no workers should have been allowed in the “drop zone” while workers were trimming overhead. At the very least, employers should have put a verbal or visual system in place to allow workers to communicate when hazards were present.
In the second case, a worker was removing the top part of a hickory tree when the trunk snapped in half, causing the worker to fall 65 feet to his death. Inspectors at that scene found that if the employer had done a preliminary inspection of the tree, he would have known that it could not support the force needed to rig and rope down cut tree sections.
The bulletin stressed the importance of doing prep work before they begin any tree care operations. Helpful preliminary work could be:
Assessing the worksite for fall and falling object hazards
Having a qualified arborist survey the worksite
Determining if workers will need to climb or use aerial lifts
Establishing drop zones where there is a hazard of falling objects
Taking steps to protect workers from falling object hazards
Establishing visual and audible communications with overhead and ground workers
Having emergency procedures in place
OSHA is pushing special emphasis programs in states like Delaware, Pennsylvania and Ohio.
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[Did You Know: A mature tree can weigh more than 10 tons, and when it falls, the impact could easily crush a car.]
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