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Tree Care Industry

Tree care companies provide services such as pruning, removal, plant health care, cabling and bracing, transplanting, consulting, fertilization, and lightning protection.

Tree care hazards are addressed in specific standards for recordkeeping and the general industry.


This section highlights OSHA standards, Federal Registers (rules, proposed rules, and notices), directives (instructions for compliance officers), standard interpretations (official letters of interpretation of the standards), and national consensus standards related to the tree care industry.


Note: Twenty-five states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have OSHA-approved State Plans and have adopted their own standards and enforcement policies. For the most part, these States adopt standards that are identical to Federal OSHA. However, some States have adopted different standards applicable to this topic or may have different enforcement policies.

States may also develop compliance assistance programs and cooperative arrangements with employers and organizations similar to those offered by Federal OSHA. For more information, see State Occupational Safety and Health Plans.

Frequently Cited Standards

The tree care industry must comply with all the general industry standards (29 CFR 1910). OSHA maintains a listing of the most frequently cited standards for specified 6-digit North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes. Please refer to OSHA’s Frequently Cited OSHA Standards page for additional information. For Landscaping Services, use NAICS code 561730 in the NAICS search box.

Other Highlighted Standards

Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illness (29 CFR 1904)

  • 1904.39, Reporting fatalities and multiple hospitalization incidents to OSHA

General Industry (29 CFR 1910)

Federal Registers


Standard Interpretations

National Consensus

Note: These are NOT OSHA regulations. However, they do provide guidance from their originating organizations related to worker protection.

American National Standards Institute (ANSI)

The following voluntary ANSI standards may be applicable to the tree care industry. Compliance with ANSI standards does not ensure compliance with OSHA policy, although the requirements of some ANSI standards have been adopted within OSHA standards. This list is provided for reference use only.

  • A300-2001, Tree Care Operations - Tree, Shrub and Other Woody Plant Maintenance - Standard Practices

  • Z133.1-2000, Arboricultural Operations Safety

  • B175.1-2000, Safety Requirements for Gasoline Powered Chain Saws

  • A10.14-1991, Requirements for Safety Belts, Harnesses, Lanyards, Lifelines, and Drop Lines for Constructional and Industrial Use

  • A14.1-2000, Ladders - Portable Wood - Safety Requirements

  • A14.2-2002, Ladders - Portable Metal - Safety Requirements

  • A14.5-1992, Stepladders and Platform Ladders, Aluminum Magnesium, Fiberglass Ladders

  • A92.2-2001, Vehicle-Mounted Elevating and Rotating Aerial Devices

  • Z41-1991, Protective Footgear Requirements

  • Z87.1-2003, Occupational and Educational Eye and Face Protection Devices

  • Z89.1-2003, Personnel Protection - Protective Headgear for Industrial Workers - Requirements

  • Z308.1-2003, Minimum Requirements for Workplace First Aid Kits

  • Z359.1-1992, Safety Requirements for Personal Fall Arrest Systems, Subsystems, and Components

American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)

  • B30.5-2004, Mobile and Locomotive Truck Cranes

Hazard Recognition

Many hazards in the tree care industry are potentially fatal. Overhead power lines, falling branches, and faulty safety equipment are just a few of the dangers. The following references aid in recognizing some of the hazards that may be encountered by tree care professionals.

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Reports

Common Shop Hazards and Tree Care Considerations

  • Slipping hazards present from oils or solvents on the floor. [29 CFR 1910.22]

  • Fire hazards in shop areas. [29 CFR 1910.106], [29 CFR 1910.157]

  • Adequate fire extinguishers [29 CFR 1910.157] and first aid kits [29 CFR 1910.151] in the shop. It is recommended that consideration be taken to also include extinguishers in work vehicles as appropriate.

  • Emergency response plans. [29 CFR 1910.38]

  • Hazard Communication Issues – the need to identify all hazardous substances within the shop area (carbon monoxide, welding fume, wood dust, metal dust, solvents, fertilizers) and develop a program that addresses MSDSs, labeling, and employee training. [29 CFR 1910.1200]

  • If corrosive chemicals are used, emergency eyewashes and showers are required. [29 CFR 1910.151]

  • Stairways need railings if more than 4 stairs - differences in "open" and "closed" stairs are clarified in. [29 CFR 1910.24]

  • All safety guards must be in place and operational on all shop tools. [29 CFR 1910 Subpart O]

  • Lockout/tagout program requirements. [29 CFR 1910.147]

  • Compressed air used for cleaning purposes must be reduced to less than 30 p.s.i. and then only with effective chip guarding and personal protective equipment. [29 CFR 1910.242(b)], [Hazard Information Bulletin]

  • When the periphery of the blades of a fan is less than seven feet above the floor or working level, the blades shall be guarded. [29 CFR 1910.212(a)(5)]

  • Storage issues with Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) containers. [29 CFR 1910.110]

  • Workrests and tongue guards of grinders should be properly adjusted. [29 CFR 1910.215]

Additional Resources

  • Hazards of Wood Chippers. OSHA Safety and Health Information Bulletin (SHIB), (2008, April 16). Also available as a 142 KB PDF, 8 pages.

  • Lyme Disease Fact Sheet. OSHA and the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA) Alliance, (2008, June). Addresses issues associated with Lyme disease, including its symptoms and treatment options and tick bite prevention and control.

  • Quick Cards. OSHA and the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA) Alliance, (2008, June).
    • Lyme Disease. Addresses prevention of tick bites and identification of Lyme disease.
    • Chipper Winch. Addresses the potential hazards and safe work practices regarding operating chipper winches.
    • Dump Body. Addresses potential hazards and safe work practices regarding operating truck-mounted hydraulic dump bodies.
  • Working Outdoors in Warm Climates [74 KB PDF*, 2 pages]. OSHA Fact Sheet, (2005, September).

  • Hazard ID 8 - Injury Associated with Working Near or Operating Wood Chippers. US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 99-145, (1999, August). Contains detailed descriptions of hazards associated with wood chippers and recommendations for prevention.

  • Prevention of Slips, Trips, and Falls. Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS). This document is provided by the Inquiries Service at CCOHS, whose mandate is to promote improvements in occupational health and safety by providing practical information to answer workplace concerns.

Safety and Health Program

In tree care, just as in other professions, effective management of worker safety and health protection is a decisive factor in reducing the extent and the severity of work-related injuries and illnesses. Effective management addresses all work-related hazards, including those potential hazards that could result from a change in worksite conditions or practices. It addresses hazards whether or not they are regulated by government standards. For more information, see OSHA's Injury and Illness Prevention Programs Safety and Health Topics Page.

A tree care company's safety and health program should address the specific safety/compliance concerns applicable to its activities in the field, shop, and office such as the following:

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

The OSHA PPE standard requires the employer to assess the hazards of the worksite and ensure that employees use appropriate PPE. The employer must also complete a written certification of hazard assessment. Documented policies, training, and enforcement should ensure that PPE is used by all employees whenever it is required by virtue of hazards in the workplace.
[More Information]

HAZCOM/Right to Know

The Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) addresses the issues of evaluating and communicating hazards to workers. Employees have both a need and a right to know the hazards and identities of the hazardous substances they are exposed to when working. They also need to know what protective measures are available to prevent adverse effects. However, evaluation is the responsibility of the producers and importers of the materials, who are required to provide the hazard information to employers that purchase their products. If you are operating in an OSHA-approved State Plan State, you must comply with the State's requirements, which may be more stringent than the Federal rule. Contact the State OSHA Office for more information regarding applicable requirements.
[More Information]

Lockout/Tagout Knowledge and Training

OSHA’s Lockout/Tagout standard requires that employees be safeguarded from the unexpected startup of machinery or equipment, or the release of hazardous energy during service or maintenance activities. If employees are involved in the maintenance and servicing of equipment, the employer must develop a lockout/tagout program. A lockout/tagout program must address employee training, equipment-specific energy control procedures, and periodic inspections to ensure that equipment is properly de-energized prior to servicing or maintenance.
[More Information]

Illness/Injury Recordkeeping and Posting [29 CFR 1904.2, 29 CFR 1904.4]

OSHA requires businesses to log (keep track of) and, once a year, post a summary of their occupational illnesses and injuries. The OSHAwebsite provides forms for this purpose. If your company had 10 or fewer employees at all times during the last calendar year, you need not keep OSHA injury and illness records unless OSHA or the BLS informs you in writing that you must keep records under 29 CFR 1904.1 or 29 CFR 1904.2. However, as required by 29 CFR 1904.39, all employers covered by the OSH Act must report to OSHA any workplace incident that results in a fatality or the hospitalization of three or more employees within 8 hours of the incident.
[More Information]

OSHA Poster Review

  • All covered employers are required to display, and keep displayed, a poster informing employees of the protections of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and its amendments.

  • The poster must be displayed in a conspicuous place where employees and applicants for employment can see it.

  • When employees do not work at or report to a single establishment, posters shall be posted at the location from which the employees carry out their activities.

  • Reproductions or facsimiles of the poster have to be at least 8 1/2 by 14 inches with 10-point type.

  • Get the plain language poster OSHA Publication 3165. Also available as a 2 MB PDF, 1 page.

Reporting Serious Accidents [29 CFR 1904.8]

  • Within eight hours of the death of any employee from a work-related incident, or the in-patient hospitalization of three or more employees as a result of a work-related incident, the employer must verbally report the accident by telephone or in person to the OSHA Area Office nearest to the site of the incident, or by using the OSHA toll-free central telephone number (1-800-321-OSHA).

  • This requirement applies to each fatality or hospitalization of three or more employees that occurs within 30 days of an incident. When the employer does not learn of a reportable incident at the time it occurs, he/she must report within eight hours of the time the incident is reported to any agent or employee of the employer.

  • Each report has to relate the following information: Establishment name, location of incident, time of the incident, number of fatalities or hospitalized employees, contact person, phone number, and a brief description of the incident.


Training topics may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Job Skills for the specific job duty (required by various OSHA standards and American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Z133.1),

  • Electrical Hazards [29 CFR 1910.332, 29 CFR 1910.333, 29 CFR 1910.334, 29 CFR 1910.335, 29 CFR 1910.268, 29 CFR 1910.269] (only if qualified employees will encroach on the 10-foot minimum separation distance from overhead electrical conductors),

  • Hazard Communication [29 CFR 1910.1200],

  • First Aid/CPR [29 CFR 1910.151] (required in most instances),

  • Bloodborne Pathogens [29 CFR 1910.1030] (required),

  • Lockout/Tagout [29 CFR 1910.147] (required),

  • Slip, Trip, and Fall Prevention (recommended),

  • Work Zone Safety (pursuant to the DOT Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD)),

  • Forklift Operation [29 CFR 1910.178],

  • Ergonomics (recommended),

  • Back Injury Prevention (recommended),

  • Pre-job briefing by the crew leader (required by various OSHA standards and ANSI Z133.1), and

  • Requirements for all climbing and rigging equipment, ANSI Z133.1.

Additional Information

Related Safety and Health Topics Pages

Other Resources

  • Small Business. OSHA.
  • Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP). OSHA. VPP participants are a select group of facilities that have designed and implemented outstanding health and safety programs.
    • OSHA Challenge Program. This program is designed to reach and guide employers and companies in all major industry groups strongly committed to improving their safety and health management systems and interested in pursuing recognition in the Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP). OSHA provides Challenge participants with a guide or roadmap to improve performance and ultimately achieve VPP Merit or Star status.
  • Partnership. OSHA's Strategic Partnership Program (OSPP). Through OSPP, OSHA and its partners agree to work cooperatively to address critical safety and health issues.

Hispanic Resources

  • Spanish-Language Compliance Assistance Resources. OSHA. Compliance assistance resources for Hispanic employers and workers.
  • Equipo de Protección Personal (Personal Protective Equipment) [48 KB PDF*, 2 pages]. OSHA Fact Sheet, (2012, July).

  • Protéjase Contra Los Rayos Dañinos del Sol (Protecting Yourself in the Sun). OSHA Publication 3168, (2000). Also available as a 42 KB PDF, 2 pages.

  • La Ecuación del Frío (The Cold Stress Equation). OSHA Cold Stress Card (Publication 3156), (1998). Also available as a 21 KB PDF, 4 pages.

  • Información Sobre Los Riesgos de Los Productos Químicos (Information on the Risks of Chemical Products). OSHA Publication 3117, (1989). Also available as a 66 KB PDF, 23 pages.

  • Programa en Español de Seguridad e Higiene en el Trabajo de Oregon OSHA (OR-OSHA Occupational Safety & Health Program in Spanish). Oregon OSHA. Includes ready-to-use bilingual (English/Spanish) tailgate safety training lessons and presentations.

  • Instituto Nacional para la Seguridad y Salud Ocupacional (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health). Provides a Spanish language web page that includes safety and health information, links to specific Spanish language publications, and links to other Spanish language web pages.

  • Petición De Ayuda Para La Prevención De Electrocuciones Debidas a Tomas De Corriente Y a Conectores Averiados (Preventing Electrocutions Due to Damaged Receptacles and Connectors). US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 87-100, (1986, October).

  • Petición De Ayuda Para La Prevención De Electrocuciones Por Contacto Entre Grúas Y Cables De Alta Tensión (Preventing Electrocutions from Contact Between Cranes and Power Lines). US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 85-111, (1985, July).

  • Petición De Ayuda Para La Prevención De Muertes a Los Trabajadores Que Se Ponen En Contacto Con La Energía Elécrica (Preventing Fatalities of Workers Who Contact Electrical Energy). US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 87-103, (1986, December).

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