The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a hazard bulletin about preventing worker fatalities from falls and falling objects in tree care work.
“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,” says 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 bulletin details two fatal tree care incidents, one caused by a fall and other by a falling object.
In the first, OSHA’s investigation found an employer should have prevented the worker 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 on snapped in half. OSHA determined 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