Region 4 News Release: 11-1386-ATL (483)
Oct. 5, 2011
Contact: Michael D'Aquino Michael Wald
Phone: 404-562-2076 404-562-2078
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US Department of Labor's OSHA cites Alabama tree trimming
company for safety and health violations following fatality
WEBB, Ala. – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Rda Service Co. Inc. of Citronelle for seven serious safety and health violations following the April death of a worker who was ejected from an aerial lift after it was struck by a falling tree.
Alabama Power contracted Rda Service Co. to clear trees from overhead power lines on Otis Buie Road in Webb. One serious safety violation related to the fatality was cited for failing to ensure that employees were wearing fall protection in an aerial lift. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
Three other serious safety violations involve allowing employees to be within the fall zone of a tree being cut down; not ensuring that a retreat path was cleared and designated prior to the felling of the tree; and failing to properly cut the tree to provide an adequate hinge cut, back cut or hinge wood to ensure the tree falls in the intended direction. Additionally, three serious health violations involve failing to train employees in first aid and CPR, provide adequate first-aid supplies and offer the hepatitis vaccine to employees exposed to potential bloodborne pathogens.
"Employers need to ensure that proper cuts are made on trees when workers are cutting down large ones, as well as ensure that personnel and equipment are at least two tree lengths from the tree when it is being cut," said Kurt Petermeyer, OSHA's area director in Mobile. "Tragic incidents such as this one can be prevented if employers follow common-sense safety guidelines."
Proposed penalties total $39,400. The company, which primarily performs site clearing, trucking and tree trimming services, has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The site was inspected by OSHA's Mobile Area Office, which is located at 1141 Montlimar Drive, Suite 1006, Mobile, Ala. 36609.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Mobile office at 251-441-6131.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.
U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The information above is available in large print, Braille, audio tape or disc from the COAST office upon request by calling 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755.