The following fatal incident descriptions involve the serious hazards of falls and falling objects:
Falling Object Incident
A tree care worker was dragging trimmed branches to a mobile wood chipper. A second worker, a trimmer, was working from a mobile bucket truck. The trimmer was piecing out a large maple tree scheduled for removal from the rear of a residence. The trimmer cut a piece of a limb that was approximately one foot in diameter and 20 inches long. When the limb fell, it struck the tree care worker on the head, killing him. An investigation of this incident determined that ground personnel should not have been in the tree- trimming area, or "drop zone", while the trimmer was performing overhead work. The employer was required to establish a system of verbal and visual communications that the trimmer could use to inform ground personnel to stand clear when an overhead hazard existed.
A worker climbed a large hickory tree to remove the top of the tree. After he cut one section off the top of the tree and was roping down a second section, the trunk of the tree he was working from snapped in half. This caused the worker and the entire top of the tree to fall approximately 65 feet to the ground, killing the worker. The employer could have prevented this incident by performing a preliminary examination of the tree before starting work. A thorough preliminary examination would have shown that the tree could not support the forces resulting from rigging and roping down cut tree sections.
Photo courtesy of Altec
Before beginning any tree care operation, employers need to:
OSHA's webpage on the Tree Care Industry, at www.osha.gov/treecare, provides many resources on OSHA standards, hazard recognition, safety and health programs, and additional resources.
OSHA's On-site Consultation Program offers free and confidential advice to small businesses with fewer than 250 workers at a site (and no more than 500 employees nationwide). This program provides free on-site compliance assistance to help employers identify and correct job hazards as well as improve injury and illness prevention programs. On-site consultation services are separate from enforcement and do not result in penalties or citations. To locate the OSHA consultation office nearest you, visit www.osha.gov or call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742).
OSHA has compliance assistance specialists throughout the nation located in most OSHA offices. Compliance assistance specialists can provide information to employers and workers about OSHA standards, short educational programs on specific hazards or OSHA rights and responsibilities, and information on additional compliance assistance resources. Contact your local OSHA office for more information by calling 1-800-321-OSHA (6742) or visit OSHA's website at www.osha.gov.
Workers have the right to:
For questions or to get information or advice, to report an emergency, report a fatality or catastrophe, order publications, or to file a confidential complaint, contact your nearest OSHA office, visit www.osha.gov, or call OSHA at 1-800- 321-OSHA (6742), TTY 1-877-889-5627.
This bulletin is not a standard or regulation, and it creates no new legal obligations. It contains recommendations as well as descriptions of mandatory safety and health standards. The recommendations are advisory in nature, informational in content, and are intended to assist employers in providing a safe and healthful workplace. The Occupational Safety and Health Act requires employers to comply with safety and health standards and regulations promulgated by OSHA or by a state with an OSHA-approved state plan. In addition, the Act's General Duty Clause, Section 5(a)(1), requires employers to provide their employees with a workplace free from recognized hazards likely to cause death or serious physical harm.
U.S. Department of Labor
OSHA - HB-3731-2014
† This guidance is intended as a general warning for all tree care workers. In situations where employees other than qualified workers, as defined in 29 CFR 1910.269(a)(1)(i)(E)(1), are clearing trees and brush around electrical lines, minimum approach distances are given in 29 CFR 1910.269(r)(1). For further information see the Electric Power eTool at www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/electric_power/overheadlinework_lineclearance.html.
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