Last year, a man was working on a bucket boom truck. This machine looks like a small crane with a bucket tied at the end and was being used to help remove a tree. The worker was lifted 60 feet inside the bucket to tie a strap to a 3,200-pound section of the tree trunk. From there, a separate crane was supposed to lift the tree. However, something went wrong.
Rather than lifting the tree, the crane started tilting. Luckily, the crane operator was able to jump out of the control truck before it toppled over. However, the worker in the bucket boom was not so lucky. The crane ultimately smashed into the boom, which snapped it and sent the man standing in the bucket falling to the ground. The man in the bucket boom survived, but was injured and taken to the closest hospital.
The crane truck typically has computers that calculate distances, weight and force to protect operators from these types of mishaps. It is unclear whether these computers malfunctioned or were simply ignored, as it is possible the crane was overloaded. Whatever the case, the tree-removal company owner claims this was a freak incident and he’s never experienced anything like this in the past.
OSHA Has Safety Standards for Tree-Removal
Safely removing trees that are structurally unsound, in the middle of a construction zone or interfering with other structures is a challenging job. It requires aerial lifts, such as bucket booms, as well as cranes. This comes with an inherent set of safety hazards to be addressed by site managers. As such, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration has a safety standard guide.
The safety guide recommends the area be mapped and a detailed plan be made by the crane operator and crew leader. OSHA also requires spotters be used to gauge clearance distances and inform the crane operator of any irregularities. A qualified arborist is required to estimate the tree’s weight and measure the section that will be suspended prior, which determines what the crane will carry. A typical suspended load should never under any circumstances be more than 80 percent of the load capacity of the crane.
In this situation, it seems several OSHA safety violations were made that resulted in a worker sustaining injuries.
Larrimer & Larrimer, LLC is a personal injury firm that fights for injured workers in the Zanesville, Newark, Columbus, Shadyside areas of Ohio.