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OSHA Tree Care Operations
Stakeholder Meeting
Washington, DC
July 13, 2016
Meeting Summary Report
August 15, 2016

 

Table of Contents

1 Background

This report summarizes key points made during an informal stakeholder meeting that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) held to gather information on best practices for preventing work-related injuries and fatalities in tree care operations. The meeting was held from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on July 13, 2016, at the U.S. Department of Labor in Washington, DC. It was convened to help OSHA collect information on hazards in the tree care industry. OSHA will use the information collected, together with information in the record, to explore the possible development of a proposed standard to protect workers from hazards, fatalities, and injuries in tree care operations. The goal was to elicit viewpoints from employers, workers, and health and safety professionals concerning several main topic areas: fatalities and injuries, new technology and trends in the tree care industry, State-Plan State and national consensus standards, vehicles and mobile equipment, and information and training. Tree care operations, such as tree trimming and removal, expose workers to a number of dangerous hazards. These hazards include: falling from trees or aerial equipment, being struck by falling branches, flying objects and vehicular traffic, being cut by high-speed chain saws and chippers, contact with energized power lines, and others.

On December 8, 2008, OSHA issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) seeking information on tree care operations (73 FR 54118 (9/18/2008), Docket No. OSHA-2008-0012). The Agency requested data, information, and comment on the hazards present in tree care operations as well as the measures to control those hazards and reduce the high rate of incidents, injuries, and fatalities. OSHA received 69 comments in response to the ANPR, now available at www.regulations.gov under docket OSHA-2008-0012.

On June 13, 2016, OSHA published a notice about the stakeholder meeting in the Federal Register (81 FR 38117), explaining that interested parties should register in advance. Eighteen stakeholders (identified in Appendix A) participated in this meeting, and they were all given the opportunity to provide verbal comments. Members of the general public were allowed to observe on a first-come, first-served basis as space permitted. The observers could make comments at designated times during the stakeholder meeting. Thirty-five people (also identified in Appendix A) pre-registered to attend the meeting as observers. Eastern Research Group, Inc. (ERG) provided logistical support for the stakeholder meeting, and a technical writer from ERG attended the meeting and prepared this summary report. This report captures the main discussion points that stakeholders raised during the meeting, but is not a verbatim transcript. Its content reflects stakeholders' remarks, not the opinions of ERG or OSHA.

2 Opening Remarks

Dr. David Michaels, the Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA, welcomed attendees to the meeting and introduced the OSHA staff at the meeting: Bill Perry, Director of OSHA's Directorate of Standards and Guidance (DSG), Amy Wangdahl, Director of DSG's Office of Maritime and Agriculture (OMA), Acie Zachary, safety specialist in OMA, Bob Bell, safety engineer in DSG's Office of Engineering Safety. Dr. Michaels also introduced Sarah Shortall, DOL Office of the Solicitor, and commended her persistent efforts during the past seven years to prioritize tree care operations safety. Dr. Michaels stated that he signs letters to the next of kin of workers who are killed on the job, and that there are over 70 deaths a year in the tree care industry. These workers are employed by small and large companies, some are state or municipal employees, and some are temporary workers. Many of these workers were not provided protection or training.

Amy Wangdahl then described DSG's role and responsibilities in developing most of OSHA's standards, with the exception of construction and a couple of other small areas. She emphasized the very high evidentiary burden DSG must meet when developing standards, and why it is important to base standards on the best information possible. Ms. Wangdahl commented that OSHA is very early in this process concerning tree care operations. She also noted that the topics addressed during the stakeholder meeting will be a consolidated version of the questions originally distributed, because the previous set of questions would take too much time to adequately cover.

Barbara Upston, meeting facilitator, emphasized that the stakeholder meeting is informal and not part of a formal rulemaking process at this time. She noted that OSHA is here to listen to the stakeholders' perspective and expertise about safety in tree care operations. Ms. Upston also noted that the observers in the room would have ten minutes to make comments at the end of each topic discussion. She also pointed out that the stakeholder meeting summary report would not attribute comments to specific people.

3 Introductions and Ground Rules

Meeting facilitator Barbara Upston (of Management Consulting Associates) provided an overview of the meeting agenda, identifying five topics that OSHA wanted stakeholders to address:

  • Fatalities and injuries in tree care operations
  • New technology and new trends in the tree care industry
  • National consensus and State Plan State standards
  • Vehicles and mobile equipment
  • Information and training

Ms. Upston asked attendees to refrain from delivering long presentations, but noted that OSHA would be happy to accept such presentations (or any other useful data) after the meeting. She then asked the stakeholders to introduce themselves and identify their affiliations. After doing so, participants launched into an open, roundtable discussion.

4 Points of Discussion

The following is a summary of the key comments that stakeholders provided during the meeting. Their input is grouped by topic, without reference to the identity of the speaker.

Topic #1: Fatalities and Injuries in tree care operations

Fatalities and injuries in tree care operations primarily result from falls, being struck by falling objects or vehicles, and electrocutions. What are the other causes of fatalities and injuries?

Aerial lifts/bucket trucks

Injury/fatality statistics and causes

Several stakeholders described fatality and injury statistics maintained by their organizations. One stakeholder pointed out that the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) maintains a fatality database (www.afscme.org), in which members submit information about work-related fatalities. The database contains 13 tree care operations deaths in the past 20 years, but there are certainly others that have not been reported. Eight of these fatalities were related to aerial lifts: of these, half were struck by trees or limbs, two were falls from aerial lifts, one resulted from a vehicle driving through a work zone and striking a lift, and one was an electrocution in an aerial lift.

A second stakeholder noted that the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA) compiles accident statistics from media accounts of accidents, OSHA website reports, and various other sources. Between 2009 and 2013 TCIA recorded 408 fatal accidents from tree care operations, 47 of which were aerial lift operator fatalities in the private and public sectors. Of those 47 aerial lift fatalities, 14 were related to electrical contact and the remaining 33 were falls. Thirteen of the 33 falls resulted from unsecured workers (no fall protection), 12 were boom failures, one was an aerial lift tip over, and seven did not have enough details to determine the cause. This stakeholder noted that the data does not track which fatalities involved getting struck by a tree branch.

One stakeholder noted that many municipalities use older equipment without the option to tie off properly, many workers go in or out of buckets without using fall protection, and some do not know how to use fall protection equipment. In some cases, employers are close to following ANSI Z133, American National Standard for Arboricultural Operations - Safety Requirements. However, this is not the norm, especially in states that do not have OSHA-approved State Plans. Many employers do not know about the ANSI standards, especially in smaller municipalities, small parks departments, and school districts. A school maintenance employee may take care of a tree on school grounds instead of hiring a contractor with specialized knowledge.

Another stakeholder noted that New York is not able to perform enough inspections, especially in smaller municipalities. There are over 1,000 towns and municipalities, 62 counties, and over 100 state agencies. Lack of fall protection is another common issue for these tree care workers. Aerial lift injuries are frequently caused by falls. In one example, a worker was not tied off in a bucket and was using ropes tied to a branch to climb in and out. The branch came down and the rope wrapped around the worker's neck and hanged him. Other common issues include: a lack of training, inadequate personal protective equipment (PPE), and inadequate equipment. One representative from a large private company stated that his company manually climbs about 30 percent of the trees, using buckets more often. Most injuries happen when manually climbing.

Requirements OSHA should include for employees in aerial lifts/bucket trucks in a standard

According to one stakeholder, tree care companies will be able to use an OSHA standard to insert safety language into their contracts during negotiations, even if employers are not aware of the content of the standard.

Ground operations

Ground work statistics and causes

One stakeholder used the TCIA database to describe 68 fatal accidents that occurred on the ground (close to 20 percent of all fatalities recorded), the majority of which were "struck by" incidents. The details are unclear in many of these fatalities, but the stakeholder could surmise some causes. Thirty-nine of the 68 fatalities were chainsaw operators, 28 of which were struck by the tree they were felling. He suggested the workers were not familiar with proper felling technique, which is very precise if done correctly. He also mentioned a helpful annex in the ANSI Z133 standard that describes everything that must be considered when felling a tree. He also suggested there was likely a lack of training and competency among the 28 workers struck by the trees they were felling. Many were struck by tree limbs, which would indicate they were working on diseased or rotting trees. Eight of the 68 fatal accidents were chipper operators. Twelve of the 68 fatalities were ground persons, responsible for some other part of felling operations. The stakeholder suggested these incidents were workers in the drop zone. He also mentioned three workers who were struck by trees, but were not involved in felling activities.

A second stakeholder described three fatalities from ground operations, all of which involved being struck by tree limbs. The workers did not know where to be on the ground or where to go to escape falling branches. Forty percent of New York injuries involve being struck on the ground by falling tree limbs or branches. The stakeholder noted that these workers are often not using PPE, have no training, and no oversight in general. The stakeholder previously worked in a transportation department, in which workers were given tools without any oversight or training. This is bad for the health of trees and also the cause of many injuries. The stakeholder would like to see a certified arborist overseeing jobs, which is required in Virginia.

Another stakeholder did not have data on the PPE used during ground work, but noted that the Philadelphia Area Project on Occupational Safety and Health (PHILAPOSH) compiled data for Pennsylvania and New Jersey for Workers' Memorial Day this year and found that there were more deaths from landscaping and tree services than construction in those two states. Of the eight deaths the stakeholder can clearly identify coming from tree service, five were from trees falling on people on the ground and one was a vehicle fatality on the ground.

Another stakeholder responded that one fatality involved a tree going through window of a truck, parked in the wrong spot, and killing the driver, so vehicle placement is also an important issue.

One stakeholder discussed the ground work hazards associated with storm response. She mentioned that the Rutgers School of Public Health has conducted several focus groups of Spanish-speaking and English-speaking workers. Most Spanish-speaking workers are employed in ground operation roles, especially post storm. Three people died in New Jersey after Hurricane Sandy. These focus groups recognize post storm tree care workers as first responders. The focus groups found that these workers suffer a variety of injuries in addition to deaths: lacerations, other serious injuries, struck by injuries, and potential for head injuries. These workers are generally not provided with PPE, although sometimes they were provided gloves and goggles. Companies with larger crews and safety presence might have hard hats. No one gives them information on where to be to avoid getting hit. Some receive basic training if bilingual, but often no training is provided.

Drop Zones and Protecting Ground Workers

One stakeholder noticed in 2008 that in the tree care industry there was an attitude that it was acceptable to clear brush and limbs while another worker is in the tree trimming limbs. Struck by incidents were the most common type of injuries and fatalities in the tree care industry in 2008. An employee in the stakeholder's company was killed in 2009 after walking into a drop zone, despite wearing hard hat. The company decided, along with the Utility Line Clearance Coalition (ULCC), to develop their own drop zone policies. Workers now cone off drop zones and have signs. The struck by incidents in the stakeholder's company have decreased 75 or 80 percent from what they were in 2008. The policy is a three-page document that clearly defines what workers can and cannot do when working with someone felling or trimming a tree. OSHA requested that this stakeholder provide the drop zone policy to DOL during the comment period after the stakeholder meeting.

Requirements OSHA should include for employees in ground operations in a standard

One stakeholder recommended that OSHA require hands-on training for PPE, especially fall protection. He noted that sitting in a classroom is not as effective according to fall protection trainers. Another stakeholder noted that Maryland passed a law that was not focused on occupational safety and health, but was more about keeping "fly by night" contractors from doing work. The law did, however, force the counties to have someone in their parks department who could put together work plans and make sure PPE is worn. Howard County, Maryland is wealthy and has a robust safety program with safety officers to draft work plans.

Another stakeholder noted that ground safety is taken very lightly in tree care operations when compared to the logging industry. He commented that people with no training are given chainsaws, there is no first aid training, and no policies addressing traffic, workplace violence, or stinging insects. Municipalities are often confused about safety policies. They are confused about whether OSHA can cite under 29 CFR 1910.266 or the General Duty Clause. He also noted the need for a safety management system, including: management commitment, employee involvement, hazard assessment, hazard control, training, and a review process. He would like to see more companies using ANSI A300 (Part 9), which describes hazard assessments and job assessments.

A third stakeholder commented that it would be important to include provisions for electronic communication devices in a standard, because of the struck by incidents.

A fourth stakeholder said that most tree care professionals (e.g., commercial arborists or line clearance arborists) look at existing standards, 29 CFR 1910.269 (Electric Power Generation, Transmission and Distribution) and ANSI Z133. Organizations have to have safety in their business practices. Are companies identifying the hazards? Are employees being trained? Are they equipped and supervised? Is there a support culture? Are there control factors if people deviate from the norm? Job briefings are also important, as well as reassessing if something changes in the work process. Management needs to identify patterns and develop programs to address identified hazards.

Another stakeholder commented that every clause in the ANSI Z133 is built on an accident that happened. The new ANSI standard will be approximately 90 pages, whereas the initial standard was 24 pages. A different stakeholder responded that there are essentially two tree care industries, those that take safety seriously and those without safety programs. Eighty percent of accidents occur in non-member companies of TCIA, and member companies make up 75-80 percent of the industry.

Hazard identification

One stakeholder noted that 29 CFR 1910.269 requires a job briefing at the beginning of each job. This stakeholder's company uses "memory joggers" during job briefings on specific physical hazards, plants, animals, and public concerns in backyards. The techniques used to complete work are planned before arriving onsite. Job training is vital for hazard recognition, as it helps workers put together a plan to perform the work safely. An OSHA staff member asked the stakeholder whether job briefings occur every day during projects that last multiple days. The stakeholder responded that job briefings occur every morning, again after lunch, or if the job changes. Safety briefings are an ongoing conversation as the job progresses, and are documented twice a day at minimum. Another stakeholder noted that smaller municipalities typically do not conduct pre-job briefings. In his experience, even if a municipality has a supervisory arborist, they are often focused on the biggest jobs.

Another stakeholder described his company's hazard assessment process. The assessment involves talking about the job techniques, noting the job location (e.g., traffic conditions, backyard, etc.), examining the condition of the tree(s), and noting the proximity of power conductors and their voltages, which equipment is needed, who will coordinate the work, and the competency level required for each job component. He commented that assessment information for tree conditions is outlined in ANSI Z133. If a tree is not safe to climb in order to bring it down, it may be safe to bring in an aerial lift. This all starts with the hazard assessment, which might be done by the crew leader or initial sales person. A different stakeholder noted that the job briefing requirements found in 29 CFR 1910.269 are expanded in ANSI Z133, which lists the hazards and mitigation for each aspect of work (e.g., aerial lifts, tree removal, climbing, stump grinding, crane use, etc.).

Another stakeholder described his company's hazard survey, which is a full two pages and is available in Spanish. Identifying hazards and how the company will mitigate hazards is very important before the job starts. He said it is also important to have knowledgeable foremen, crew leaders, and pre-planners who can look at a tree and determine whether the tree is safe to climb. Companies in the Northeast and Midwest corridors now need to deal with the Emerald Ash Borer issue. Some companies refuse to climb any Ash trees. Large companies have mechanical buckets that can go in backyards, so larger companies have the advantage.

Three stakeholders talked about the need to protect companies for losing work to companies willing to perform more dangerous tasks. One stakeholder commented that some smaller companies or municipalities might not have access to mechanical buckets. When company A makes a determination that a tree is unsafe to climb, it is wrong to hire company B to climb the tree. Companies can always bring in a crane, but it is expensive. It takes courage to not climb a tree for safety reasons. A second stakeholder noted that in the public sector, if someone stops work to assess safety, there is a threat that work will be contracted out and public workers will be let go. This drives people to poor decision making. Everyone wants to keep their jobs. The pre-assessment and requirement for pre-planning is really important for an OSHA standard. A third stakeholder commented that when jobs are bid, they tend to go to the lowest bidder, which can put companies that value oversight and pre-planning at a disadvantage.

Communication

Several stakeholders described their organizations communication techniques. One stakeholder noted that command/response communication is critical, whether with whistles or hand signals or radio-controlled helmets, etc. These methods work well in almost every situation. Another stakeholder, a safety director at a tree care company, utilizes command/response communication, using stand clear/all clear verbal, visual, and whistle commands. A third stakeholder commented that technology is less important than ensuring workers are interacting and communicating with each other. Companies need to decide on a work plan, where workers will be located, a communication system, and the command/response process. These are outlined in ANSI Z133 and have progressed over time. The stakeholder's company has started using whistle signals back and forth, verbalized signals, or hand signals with crane operators.

One stakeholder's company uses blue tooth, but commented that technology is not the answer for all companies. Another stakeholder noted that smaller companies do not use blue tooth helmet technology, which can be cost prohibitive. Smaller companies will not comply even if OSHA includes this in the standard. Larger companies already use this technology and have communication systems.

Other stakeholders discussed the challenges of effective communication systems with temporary workers. One stakeholder noted that many day laborers and employees get misclassified as independent contractors and are at particular risk of not understanding the communication system. These workers need to be educated on a daily basis. Another stakeholder noted that under storm conditions, many extra workers and sub-contractors are hired by municipalities, as well as small and medium sized companies. Sub-contractor situations require extra communication. One injury happened because of miscommunication with a sub-contractor, exacerbated by a language barrier. The stakeholder noted that there will be more storm conditions as climate change continues. A third stakeholder noted that communication is not a technology discussion. Technology does not make communication happen, though it makes it easier in some cases. It is important to make sure communications are available in Spanish. Every training document, accident communication, and apprenticeship program document from the stakeholder's company is printed in both languages. It is also important to have bilingual employees.

Emergency situations

OSHA personnel wanted stakeholders to describe what type of employee training is needed, how they address CPR/first aid training, and hazards employees are exposed to during emergency rescue.

CPR/first aid training

Several stakeholders commented about the need for CPR/first aid training for crew members. One stakeholder works in the line clearance industry, which is subject to the CPR/first aid provision in 29 CFR 1910.269. This provision specifies that two people per crew must be trained with (with 90 days allowed for the second person to be trained). He also noted that there will be discussion of this in the 2017 version of ANSI Z133. His company also provides first aid kits.

Another stakeholder did not know if this provision applies to county employees. Howard County, Maryland trained all workers in the parks department in first aid/CPR. The crew leader is required to keep their certification current and have kits that are inspected regularly in all trucks. This was a response to a change in Maryland law, but did not carry over to rest of the county, just the parks department. She recommends at least one person in every crew have certification in first aid/CPR, similar to what is required in the confined space standard.

A third stakeholder commented that the ANSI Z133 committee decided at least two people should be trained in first aid/CPR on each crew, consistent with the language in 29 CFR 1910.269. There have been no adverse comments so far. A fourth stakeholder's company provides workers with an 800 number on first aid kits, which connects them to a triage nurse. Every crew member is also trained in CPR/first aid. Another stakeholder believes everyone on a crew should be trained in CPR/first aid. One stakeholder pointed out that there are often one person crews in smaller municipalities. This poses a risk that the worker may become pinned with no one else around. The resident will often call 911. In Madison County, New York, a worker got pinned and his crew did not know what to do. The crew pulled him out and brought him back to the office in the truck without calling 911. Now everyone on their crews is trained.

Stakeholders also discussed emergencies aloft. One stakeholder noted that aerial rescue training is important. 29 CFR 1910.269 refers to pole top rescue as a type of required training and the stakeholder loosely considers trees to be poles with branches on them. Another stakeholder spent 19 years in the fire service, and commented that it is good to have crew members trained, but they also need means to summon additional help. Crews need to have a cell phone or some additional plan. This has to be part of the pre-planning for the job. There are still large parts of the country where cell coverage is minimal and some parts where 911 is not operational. A different stakeholder described an experience in which his company called the fire department to practice an aerial rescue. The fire department initially took an hour to get the victim down from the tree. Immediately after, someone trained in aerial rescue was able to perform the same rescue in five minutes. Training in aerial rescue can drastically reduce time to get someone out of a tree.

Another stakeholder commented that the new confined space entry for construction standard requires that employers notify emergency response services whenever there is a confined space entry happening. A NACOSH committee is also looking into revising OSHA's fire brigade standards. This may be an opportunity for OSHA to tie in other rulemakings, in terms of having fire and EMS collaborate with activities in general industry.

Observer comments for Topic #1
  • One observer, with TCIA, commented that some people were in the room in 1998 when there was a meeting asking for a separate arboriculture standard. A lot has changed since then. Industry representatives asked legislators for help in getting a standard. 80 percent of accidents are in small companies. These companies care about safety as much as larger companies, so if we can get message of safety out to them, he appreciates the stakeholder meeting. The observer described changes over the past 18 years: ANSI Z133 is three times as large, the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) Certified Arborist Program has added a lot of safety components, the TCIA has successfully administered three Susan Harwood grants to train thousands of people in electrical and aerial lift safety, and TCIA has also instituted a certified tree care professional credential to get companies to institute safety. The industry recently created a several million-dollar endowment for free safety training in the tree care industry around the country.
  • A second observer noted that stakeholders have discussed leading indicators, such as unsafe acts. One-hundred unsafe acts lead to a serious injury. If we can find a way to solve and document unsafe acts, we can reduce the number of serious injuries and fatalities. The observer encouraged safety crew audits and writing specific counter measures before injuries or fatalities happen.
  • A third observer noted that his utility company has 4,000 people working every day on distribution and transmission. They conduct many crew observations.
  • A fourth observer that distributes PPE, and operates a high voltage rubber insulating goods testing lab, was surprised that most injuries were struck by incidents and is curious about electrocutions. How are industries dealing with electrocutions? How are they caring for rubber insulating goods? The observer noted that caring for a hard hat is very different than caring for rubber insulating PPE.
  • A fifth observer was from TCIA and owned a small business. He noted that when municipalities put out bids, the only requirements are the prevailing rate or an OSHA 10-hour card, which does not deal with safety in the tree care industry. He recommended that a tree care operations standard include safety requirements for bids.
Topic #2: New technology and new trends in the tree care industry

What new technology have you found to be effective in eliminating/reducing hazards in tree care operations and preventing worker fatalities and injuries?

New technologies

Chippers

One stakeholder is the chair for the Environmental Equipment Reduction Council (EERC) committee. The committee is working on standardizing their decal pictorials for all chipper manufacturers (e.g., Morbark, Bandit, Vermeer, Rayco, etc.). Other technology innovations include: bottom bump bars across the tailgate to prevent people from getting pulled into the chipper, four-position control bars, side control bars, Last Chance Cable assemblies (from Bandit), non-presence switches, and non-presence magnetic gloves (from Morbark). The industry is also working on safety features for stump grinders. The stakeholder noted that old technology will be in the field for many years. Chippers and stump grinders have doubled in cost, because U.S. EPA Tier 4 Final emissions standards have increased the cost of equipment in the past year or so. Companies will opt to repair old equipment, instead of buying newer, more expensive equipment.

Lifts

One stakeholder's company has an internal goal to reduce manual climbing operations from 30 percent of jobs to 15-20 percent of jobs. His company has partnered with aerial lift manufacturers to develop backyard buckets, which are mini buckets on tracks with the ability to drive into backyards. OSHA personnel asked how the operator gets backyard buckets into the backyard and stabilizes it to keep the boom from crashing. The stakeholder responded that there are a couple different backyard buckets on the market today. Some use rubber tracks, like a small bulldozer, and are designed to fit through a typical gate in the backyard. Operators can also put down plywood or rubber mats to prevent grass from getting chewed up. Stabilizer arms keep the equipment from tipping, increasing the base footprint from about 12 feet wide to about 30 feet wide. New designs allow work on slopes. There is a height limit, and backyard buckets cannot go as high as larger aerial lifts, but it is still a good solution for backyard jobs.

Another stakeholder noted that line clearance companies use insulated aerial lift devices, but he is starting to see new Spider Lifts (compact lifts), which are not insulated. Compact lifts can go 100 feet in the air. OSHA personnel asked for clarification over whether compact lifts are the same as backyard lifts. A stakeholder replied that backyard lifts are insulated and compact lifts are not.

Another stakeholder discussed the increase in backyard bucket use. Many of these units have been brought in from other industries, and are not necessarily suitable for tree care operations.

Climbing equipment

One stakeholder noted that climbing systems continue to evolve for the security of climbers and to reduce the wear and tear on the climber's body. It is important to make sure equipment has compatible parts and that maintenance is done. The stakeholder found that, when given a choice between fall restraint or fall arrest, the majority of workers preferred fall restraint in buckets. The company required fall arrest, however. The stakeholder noted that there is nothing that requires anchorage points to be located on a specific point on the boom. The location of the anchorage affects the effective lanyard length, and so should be in a central location.

Another stakeholder noted that 3M has moved away from typical saddles and straps fall protection, and toward equipment rated for fall arrest when climbing trees. Fall protection equipment is complex, so you need the right people making choices and recommendations to meet the standards.

One stakeholder pointed out that the discussion had focused on defective, high-risk trees, but it is just as important to talk about healthy trees. Climbing a tree is sometimes the most effective way for an arborist to service it. The stakeholder did not think the industry should move away from climbing trees, noting that different tools, even the simple tools, are useful in different scenarios.

Aerial rescue

OSHA asked if there have been new technologies in regard to rescues in tree care operations. A stakeholder responded that aerial rescue has evolved a lot over the past 20 years. There are now aerial rescue kits with all the equipment to perform aerial rescues. Another stakeholder elaborated that there is a self-rescuer, a personal device for workers to repel down by themselves. 3M has demonstrated these at various shows. Suspension trauma while waiting for help to arrive is also a prominent issue.

Other technologies

One stakeholder mentioned using helicopters to perform side trim work for utility lines. In this method a saw blade hangs from the helicopter, eliminating the need to put people in trees. This method requires pre-planning to protect the public, but is very cost effective.

Another stakeholder noted that his company is investing millions of dollars in research in new technologies: underground radar, infrared, and DNA testing to determine if trees are prone to be weak, and aerial drones to get aerial views of trees. These are technologies related to risk assessment, but will not be in the field for years.

One stakeholder noted that ISA, as part of their certified arborist program, performs a job task analysis of people in the field (26,000 people certified in the U.S.) every five years. Over the last ten years, risk assessment is the most important task workers do on a daily basis. There are a lot of tools and technology that workers can use to do these risk assessments, but this requires significant training. OSHA requested that the stakeholder submit the five-year risk assessment developed at ISA. The stakeholder responded that he will submit three documents: research that was done on the acceptance of the ANSI Z133, the job task analysis for certified arborists, and another job task analysis coming out for tree care workers at the end of the summer.

Communicating with utility companies

One stakeholder described a lack of communication with utility companies when performing tree care operations in backyards. Mature plants sometimes grow into the utility lines and the customer does not want their power shut off. There is a gap of information between utility companies and tree care workers. The stakeholder mentioned the possibility of working with utility companies to perform a "line drop" when tree care workers need to work around residential power lines, removing the possibility of contact with energized conductors. There may be something OSHA can do or the utilities can do to increase tree care worker awareness of these hazards.

Effects of technology on costs and productivity

Compliance options

One stakeholder reiterated the point that blue tooth technology in helmet communications is nice, but costs thousands of dollars and gets broken. He suggested focusing on changing behaviors and safety cultures.

Another stakeholder noted that some technologies may be more attainable than others. OSHA should include types of technology as options for means of compliance with the potential standard, not including strict requirements for specific types of technology. A second stakeholder pointed to an example in the European Union (EU), when the EU required mobile elevated work platforms for tree care and later had to back away from their position. He elaborated that the technology created new hazards because the vast majority of units were not insulated. A third stakeholder noted that the ANSI Z133 has performance-based standards, allowing more flexibility in compliance.

Backyard lifts and cranes

OSHA asked about the cost of backyard lifts compared with cranes. One stakeholder noted that backyard lifts can be used every day because the company typically owns it, and cranes are typically rented for specific jobs. Backyard lifts cost approximately $50-100K each.

One stakeholder noted that cranes are often used to dismantle and remove trees, saving a lot of labor and reducing risks to labor on the ground and aloft. The controversy is around using cranes to hoist workers into trees. ANSI Z133 developed a protocol that allows this method when it is the safest alternative available. Tree diseases (pine beetle outbreaks in California or Emerald Ash borer across the majority of the country) are leaving many dead trees. Using this technique can save lives, but is currently a non-conforming practice according to OSHA.

OSHA asked what type of documentation should be required to prove that other methods of accessing the tree are less safe. The stakeholder answered that many clients do not document their thought process, but successfully explained it to OSHA field compliance personnel. He described a case in Rhode Island in which the company was cited for using a crane to hoist employees into trees. The company explained to the Regional Administrator that the company could get a lift to the tree, but could not extend the lift high enough to perform the work safely. The tree branches were too small to climb, and backyard lifts were too flimsy. Companies can use a simple checklist to document their reasons (e.g., branches are too dead to sustain a climber's weight, branches are too small in diameter for a climber in gaff spikes to access part of tree where straps need to be attached). A site diagram could also help demonstrate why a crane is the safest option.

OSHA asked about the frequency of jobs that require the use of a crane to hoist personnel. A stakeholder answered that 70 percent of TCIA members use cranes to dismantle trees, but cannot speak to how often cranes are used to hoist employees. Cranes are very expensive, but when a company can make 10 cuts, instead of 90 cuts, or rig out with equipment with known capacity, it is a substantial advantage. Another stakeholder noted that many other technologies (high angle rigging systems, power tools, sharp tools, etc.) create additional hazards that cranes can alleviate. The stakeholder agreed to submit to OSHA the documentation they use when deciding to use cranes to hoist employees. One stakeholder highlighted Section 5.7 of ANSI Z133-2012, which includes a discussion of coordination between arborist and crane operator when hoisting an arborist. This coordination can be achieved even when the crane is subcontracted from outside the company. This section was strengthened in the 2017 version.

Another stakeholder noted that she would like better technology to deal with downed trees, which is especially important when cleaning up after a hurricane, such as Hurricane Sandy. Smaller municipalities often encounter competition for cranes, which are very effective for removing trees from roofs.

New techniques

One stakeholder discussed the static rope technique (SRT). TCIA organized an SRT summit several years ago to convene experts around this issue. SRT uses non-moving rope fixed in a tree and additional mechanical equipment to attach to the rope to gain quicker access to the tree. Additionally, there are other systems with which the worker can continue working on the static rope as they descend the tree. SRT is a more ergonomically correct means of accessing a tree. Every technique introduced has a new hazard. SRT climbing can potentially subject the anchor point in a tree to greater forces than conventional moving (doubled) rope techniques. SRT is a good tool to have in the toolbox, but does have attendant hazards.

Another stakeholder commented that new technology is not necessarily vetted. Design flaws are sometimes discovered after a new product is on the market. He noted that there are no performance criteria under which systems are put together, so it would be helpful if inventors followed criteria when putting these systems together.

Technology requirements OSHA should include in a potential standard

One stakeholder commented that any new standard should include provisions preventing non-line clearance contractors from using uninsulated compact lifts near energized conductors. Another stakeholder suggested a standard should make it clear that the employer is responsible for providing PPE, maintenance of PPE, and PPE training. Another stakeholder noted that it has taken a long time in agriculture for injuries from tractors to decrease, because many tractors in use are old. It is possible the same might be true for chippers and tree care equipment, so OSHA should include retrofit options for equipment in a tree care operations standard. Another stakeholder requested that OSHA include a provision requiring work plan oversight by a certified arborist, regardless of what technology is used.

Another stakeholder suggested including a provision in the potential standard to allow hoisting employees into trees using cranes if it is the safest option. A second stakeholder would like to see language similar to every state agency that has created a tree care standard. All the expert groups who have looked at the issue of hoisting employees into trees using cranes (e.g., crane professionals in California and Virginia, the Crane Manufacturers Association of America [CMAA], ANSI B30.5 committee, etc.) have concluded that it is safe in certain circumstances to tie into a crane. The stakeholder's company has a process in which the crane operator and arborist confirm with each other that a crane is the safest way to get the job done. Every aspect of this process is documented (how the process will work, communication, etc.), at the suggestion of the OSHA personnel in Region 1. This has alleviated a tendency to issue citations and listen to explanations later.

Observer comments for Topic #2
  • One observer has worked with cranes since 1988 in tree removal and also works in the construction industry with his own business. Cranes are rated structures of known capacity and are the safest way in most situations to take a tree down. The observer uses cranes in situations where it is not required, even when the tree is not unsafe, because it the safest way to take a tree down. Repetitive injuries are very common in the tree industry, especially when using spikes to climb trees. This is not a problem while using cranes and being tied in. It is a very safe method even if it is not a compromised tree.
  • A second observer mentioned a technology and technique called Lean Sigma, which his organization embraced three years ago and had been used in the manufacturing industry previously. The observer sees many accidents occur when people do not have the right tools or equipment on the jobsite. His organization has standardized what equipment is required on jobsites and in each truck.
  • A third observer noted that his utility company provides free education for people working near electric lines. Educational videos are also available in Spanish and English on YouTube.
  • A fourth observer noted that new technology is helpful, but does not replace skilled workers or eliminate the need for climbing sometimes, especially in the utility industry, where not everything is in a yard or in a residential setting. It takes skilled workers to do this work. Some organizations are looking at electric chainsaws down the road, instead of gas chainsaws. New technology is only as good as the training a person is given.
Topic #3: National consensus and State Plan State standards

There are ANSI standards applicable to tree care operations; ANSI Z133 Safety Requirements for Arboricultural Operations and the ANSI A300 Standards for tree care operations; as well as five states that have tree care operation requirements (Oregon, Virginia, California, Maryland, and Michigan).

National consensus standards

A DOL staff person asked the stakeholders how many have been part of the ANSI Z133 committee. A large portion of the stakeholders raised their hands. The DOL staff person also wanted to know the most important parts of the current ANSI Z133 standard.

The ANSI Z133 process

One stakeholder replied that the entire process of creating and revising the ANSI standard is important. The ANSI Z133 committee filed the first standard in the early 1970's and there has been a dedicated group of stakeholders (e.g., arborists, laborers, educators, OSHA representatives, safety professionals, etc.) working to create revised standards since then. The people on the committee work on various task groups and work collectively throughout the year. The committee comes out with a new document every five to six years. There are components in the consensus standard that are key: a curriculum of training, job briefings, climbing procedures, risk assessments, falls from trees, and dealing with the variety of equipment used in tree care (cranes, chainsaws, etc.). This process decides what is most effective at that particular time. The standard has become more stringent over time. "Shalls" outweigh "shoulds" in recent documents. "Shoulds" are often included in new sections that are being introduced and may become "shalls" in the future. The ANSI Z133 process provides the basis for an excellent arboricultural safety program.

Another stakeholder also believes in the ANSI Z133 process. The process involves subject matter experts. OSHA personnel are experts in writing standards, but do not have subject matter experts. Any regulation that is written should allow the ANSI Z133 committee to continue to evolve and advance safety consensus standards. OSHA should not freeze the standard in time. The stakeholders in this meeting can pick up the phone to talk about safety advancements with each other, even though they are competitors.

One stakeholder has been involved in many other consensus standards, and believes in the consensus standard process. Many different viewpoints are included in this process, which the stakeholder calls "violent agreement," when about 70 percent of people on a committee agrees.

Another stakeholder agreed that it is important to regularly update the ANSI Z133 standard. The industry is changing very quickly. The contrast is drastic if you were to look at the standard or at an equipment catalogue in 1994 compared with today.

Specific sections

One stakeholder commented that Section 1.2 (Purpose) of the ANSI Z133 is important, because it is designed for anyone that works with trees as part of their job. Another important section is 1.4 (Responsibilities of the Employee), which says that ultimately the employees need to take responsibility for their own safety. Dr. John Ball and the stakeholder give a presentation in which they look at various fatalities and point out which sections in the consensus standard would have prevented those fatalities.

Another stakeholder pointed out that the Maryland Arborists Association did a joint presentation to describe what is happening in 2017 with the ANSI Z133 process and what progress is being made. Another stakeholder replied that it is important to have a document to turn to when reviewing incidents. The investigator can point to sections and say that the employee would have possibly avoided the accident if certain sections were followed. This stakeholder will be correlating sections in the ANSI Z133 with incidents that could have been avoided in his written submission. There is no silver bullet for safety in the tree care industry, so having a dynamic consensus standard is very important. One of the most important things in the ANSI Z133 standard that prevents incidents is having a qualified arborist, or some oversight, for job sites.

Another stakeholder responded that the section on cranes is one of the key elements of that entire document. Another stakeholder mentioned safe work practices around electricity, climbing systems (including equipment specifications) and procedures, work site setup in terms of traffic control, job briefing, hazard assessment, training, struck by prevention through refinements in the tree removal section, work plans, and incorporating changes in OSHA regulations (29 CFR 1910.269).

One stakeholder identified his favorite part of ANSI Z133 as the entire document. We should be asking which parts of this standard address hazards in the industry that are not covered by existing OSHA standards. How can the consensus standard complement what OSHA already has? The ANSI Z133 committee has also taken language from OSHA (29 CFR 1910.268, 1910.269, 1910.333). Consider occupational hazards, which are already addressed by existing OSHA standards, and figure out where the gaps are. Those gaps will be the most important parts of the standard.

Adopting the ANSI Z133

One stakeholder asked if the industry would support OSHA making the ANSI standard mandatory. Another stakeholder responded that ANSI Z133 is already mandatory if you look at OSHA's General Duty clause. ANSI Z133 contains clauses requiring PPE, job briefings, fall protection when climbing the tree, etc. The stakeholder pointed out that the "should" clauses in ANSI Z133 only account for about eight percent of the clauses, and typically are not as critical. Another stakeholder noted that it is rare to have people from different sectors agreeing that a standard is very strong. He also pointed out that ANSI Z133 is drafted more like a regulatory standard, because field inspectors have been looking to the ANSI Z133 to determine violations of the General Duty clause.

One stakeholder responded that OSHA should adopt the ANSI Z133, but should not be locked into the current version of the standard. It should be updated when ANSI Z133 is updated, if OSHA adopts it.

ANSI Z133-2017 improvements

DOL asked if the stakeholders could describe improvements made in ANSI Z133-2017 over the last edition, and if the stakeholders think OSHA should also consider these changes. One stakeholder is the chair of the tree removal section on the 2017 ANSI Z133 committee. The revised standard will clarify the language managing drop zones and materials that may fall, not just in tree pruning or removal, but in cabling, bracing, and support systems for work aloft versus the steps taken to take a tree or spar down when felling a tree. The new standard has strict language around dropping the whole tree or a tree that has been stripped down to a spar.

Another stakeholder stated that the ANSI Z133 language regarding drop zones originally came from the logging standard: one and a half times the length of the tree. The stakeholder has had to put together teams to identify drop zones when a worker is aloft and others are on the ground in that area. Sometimes that area can be smaller than a conference room, especially in urban tree care. Tree care can be much more confined than logging. The stakeholder is constantly looking for ways to protect employees in the drop zone.

Another stakeholder clarified that ANSI Z133 incorporated the requirement that the drop zone is twice the length of the tree when felling a tree without a teammate. Other persons not involved in the felling process should be twice the length of the height of the tree away. In team felling the drop zone is a strict one and a half length of the height of the tree, and only the felling team members working on the same tree can be in that zone.

From another stakeholder's perspective there are various state regulations already. The issue of footwear has always been a difficult topic in arboriculture, and chainsaw protective pants in a tree are required in the Oregon state standard. The stakeholder asks that OSHA consider this carefully before requiring this in states with hotter climates. The stakeholder points out that the thickness requirement in Europe is thinner and they do not experience more cuts than companies in the United States.

One stakeholder explained that the entire ANSI Z133-2017 is an improvement over earlier versions. If there is a specific cause of injuries the ANSI committee addresses it based on injury and fatality data. Another stakeholder illustrated this point with a specific example. The stakeholder serves on the climbing and cordage task group, which deal with climbing and rope issues. The task group looked at hazards introduced with new climbing techniques or technologies, such as SRT. Arborists are shooting ropes higher and higher into trees. Arborists were not able to evaluate the fork holding the rope, which was a new hazard associated with SRT. The task force addressed requiring workers not to shoot a rope into a part of a tree higher than they are able to inspect, and requiring a fork test before ascending on it.

One stakeholder, affiliated with tree care equipment , asks that the new version of ANSI Z133 reference the year of certain standards (e.g. Z89.1-2015) to keep it current and specific. Another stakeholder replied that the ANSI Z133 committee took dates out of the document to assume the most recent version. DOL responded that OSHA is not allowed to just list a standard without a date, because it would be passing on an OSHA responsibility to an ANSI committee.

State-Plan requirements

One stakeholder pointed out that Virginia basically adopted ANSI Z133 as their policy, changing some "shoulds" to "shalls." The state process is much faster than OSHA's process, taking less than five years. Virginia has many training materials and a public comment process. Maryland was different, because their standard was meant to regulate unscrupulous contractors.

Another stakeholder pointed out that New Jersey passed a tree care law in 2010, and the first rules related to the licensing standard were promulgated two weeks ago. The licensing standard makes reference to ANSI Z133 and is currently available for public comment at www.njtreeexperts.org

One stakeholder noted that the idea that a tree care standard is law and actively enforced sometimes outweighs the content of the regulation. In Virginia, since that regulation was promulgated, the stakeholder has had more inspections than ever before. The stakeholder noted that the Virginia law is closest to ANSI Z133, but all the state laws are all similar. The State of Washington refers directly to ANSI Z133 for what they want their enforcement to follow. The Virginia law is very thorough and allows ANSI Z133 to continue making progress.

Another stakeholder suggested that the Virginia state plan is a good lesson that OSHA should emulate. Virginia engaged the industry to write this standard, engaged industry in training of state employees to understand the content of their own standard and in the period after the standard, Virginia made concerted efforts to enforce the standard. Citations went up significantly, especially with preventative citations. This will likely prevent serious injuries/ fatalities.

DOL asked whether employers in Virginia have been able to sustain proof that hoisting employees into trees using cranes is the safest option available in some circumstances. A stakeholder replied that there is no evidence that employers are having a problem sustaining this, when looking at citations. There is no indication that employers are doing whatever they want with cranes without due diligence. Another stakeholder noted that Virginia simply used the documentation requirements suggested by OSHA's Region 1 to prove that hoisting employees into trees is the safest option.

DOL asked whether stakeholders have found any other state plans to be effective. A stakeholder responded that California also has a strong state plan. The challenges in California were very diverse, and the plan addressed issues unique to their state, such as palm trees and unique electrical challenges. Another stakeholder also replied that either Maryland or Virginia adopted ANSI Z133 and future versions of it. DOL clarified that the Agency is not able to do adopt future versions of a consensus standard, because this would qualify as delegating OSHA's authority. There are mechanisms through enforcement OSHA can use to help address this issue, however.

Observer comments for Topic #3

None.

Topic #4: Vehicles and mobile equipment
Types of vehicles and equipment used

One stakeholder referred to comments they submitted during the 2008 ANPR, which included an analysis of equipment used by TCIA members: stump grinders (86 percent), aerial lifts (74 percent), materials handling equipment such as skid steer loaders (64 percent), disc chippers (61 percent), drum chippers (59 percent), mobile cranes (57 percent), loaders/hoists/log-loaders (46 percent), compact lifts (11 percent), other types of mechanical equipment (5.3 percent). These percentages have likely changed since 2008.

Hazards associated with each type of equipment

One stakeholder listed hazards associated with stump grinders. Stump grinders were previously towed-behind equipment: the operator backed it up to the stump, lowered the hydraulic valves, and operated from a fixed position behind a guard. Some new stump grinders are self-propelled and remote controlled, allowing the operator to see the job more clearly. There are tethered and wireless remotes. These may allow the operator to get into a position of hazard (for example, from grinding wheels). Another stakeholder mentioned that industry is working on developing non-presence controls, similar to a "dead man switch," in which the operator needs to be at the controls for the equipment to work.

Another stakeholder noted that Section 5 of ANSI Z133 lists hazards common to all equipment. Section 5.2 lists hazards specific to each piece of equipment (e.g., aerial devices, brush chippers, sprayers, stump grinders, etc.). Each specific section references the general hazards common to all equipment as well. From one stakeholder's perspective the biggest issue is not equipment, but the condition of the equipment. She sees this with boom failure on aerial lifts, for example, and suggested there are not enough equipment inspections.

One stakeholder noted that new equipment often solves one problem, but creates a new hazard that did not exist before. Winches on chippers or motorized mini-skid steers on front end loaders prevent soft tissue injuries, but introduce the hazards of hands getting caught, running over feet, or backing into people. Another stakeholder noted hazards with elevator aerial lift trucks, which are normal lifts that also have scissors to lift the truck 20 feet into the air. This equipment has inherent hazards with energized conductors. Another stakeholder responded that the 2017 edition of ANSI Z133 specifically addresses the safety issues of elevated aerial lifts. It also addresses keeping operator manuals on the equipment, maintenance, and training.

Inspections

One stakeholder noted that in New York State there is often a myth that industry does not need to comply with federal highway or federal motor carrier DOT inspections. Myths become stronger and stronger in terms of who is required to have inspections. The focus tends to be on clear issues, the "low-hanging fruit." Tree care is not clear as to what standards are required for compliance. The stakeholder also mentioned that retrofitting is an issue, because the equipment is older and in-house mechanics will change equipment outside manufacturer specifications.

One stakeholder asked how active states are with enforcing rules on municipalities. Another stakeholder responded that if someone notifies inspectors of an issue they may inspect, or if they go by and happens to see something they will stop, but most jobs are not likely to get inspected. States tend to have limited resources and focus on construction. Another stakeholder noted that the bar for the General Duty clause is too high. Many inspectors will not attempt to cite under the General Duty clause unless there is a fatality.

Vehicle inspection training

OSHA asked the stakeholders how they train people to inspect and maintain specialized equipment and vehicles. One stakeholder's company takes a multi-faceted approach, covering operation of equipment as part of an informal apprenticeship program in line clearance trimming. The company relies heavily on operating manuals to teach the proper way to operate equipment. Their equipment is subject to DOT regulations because they go over the road, so they perform pre-checks and post-checks. The ANSI A92.2 standard requires regular vehicle inspections through third parties. The stakeholder brings in third party mechanics to ensure insulated parts of booms pass tests and hydraulics systems work, etc.

Another stakeholder uses manufacturer representatives to train employees in how to maintain equipment. A second stakeholder has been successful in getting vendors to conduct training. When the company hires a new employee, the employee has a two or three day orientation, which includes someone walking around with them and showing new employees how to use equipment, such as the chipper and the lift.

Another stakeholder received an email during the meeting from a state correctional facility that has to maintain all the equipment on their grounds, but the equipment is antiquated. This facility has difficulty finding equipment-specific training from vendors, because the manufacturers no longer support the antiquated equipment. Smaller businesses also often buy old or auctioned equipment.

One stakeholder noted that a culture of safety is important. Employees in his company pre-fly buckets, run machines through their paces, and put their lifts through extreme tests before working. The line clearance industry has very few failures because they take time to maintain equipment.

One stakeholder pointed out that many rental shops hand equipment over to customers without any training.

Work zones and traffic control

One stakeholder mentioned that work zones and traffic control are covered as part of their annual emergency response training. The instructors are National Safety Council (NSC) certified trainers for flagging. Their training is in the classroom and hands-on, and is followed up with in-field audits. A second stakeholder noted that CSEA and other AFSCME affiliates have developed peer trainer programs, themed "Don't Zone Out." Peer training has been very effective. Violence and work zones have been the most common causes of death. Workers are training coworkers on how to set up work zones.

One stakeholder conducts flagger training for all employees. The rules are different state to state, which changes what users need to know. The stakeholder's company put together their own guide for proper traffic control. The company uses the most stringent standards. The company also follows up and does observations, examining placement of signs, tapers, and cones. Work zones are a personal hot button for the stakeholder; his company has lost more employees to work zones than anything else.

Unique hazards in tree care work zones

One stakeholder observed that tree care takes up a lot of real estate; more than construction jobs. There is also more work aloft required. Aerial lifts also have the potential of getting hit by cars. Another stakeholder commented that people drive right through work zones. The transient nature of their work makes it different than construction projects. Tree care professionals might be there a couple of hours, or big projects might take a couple of days. There is a constant changing of jobs, which amplifies hazards.

Another stakeholder noted that traffic control zones can overlap drop zones. A second stakeholder noted that residential work zones are challenging, because people are familiar with their neighborhoods and stop paying attention. Schools complicate the situation as well, because there are buses picking up children.

Another stakeholder used to approve temporary traffic control plans and would get push back from officials who did not want to close roads. Having strong language in the ANSI Z133 standard is useful for getting permission to safely close roads without political pushback. Contractors would not include road closures in proposals to increase their chance of winning the bid.

Another stakeholder reported that work zones have extra challenges during storm cleanup in residential and school areas. Stop lights and power may be out and police officers may be otherwise occupied.

One stakeholder noted that it is important that employees wear high visibility garments. Another stakeholder replied that one challenge is that different states have different regulations. There is nobody better to help companies adhere to local regulations than local management, who should know the local rules of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). Another thing to consider is booming out over the road. The stakeholder's company has had three incidents this year in which workers were struck by trucks/buses while booming out over the road. There needs to be someone on the jobsite watching for safety hazards.

Use of cranes in tree operations

One stakeholder outlined several ways in which crane operation in the tree care industry is different from construction. In construction the crane operator picks up an object of known weight from the ground with a crane of known capacity, often on man-made substrate. Tree care cranes are frequently operating in yards or on earth. The weight of the load is not known. The arborist cuts a part of the tree loose and then the crane operator owns the load. The stakeholder mentioned a green log weight chart, which can help the operator estimate the weight of the tree section. There are programs that operators can use to estimate the weight, which consider the diameter, length, and species of tree. Operators must hook onto the piece of tree in a balanced way, preload the crane, and then release the load from the tree. Crane operators never exceed 70 to 75 percent of the crane lifting capacity.

Another stakeholder asked whether an organization has created a crane operation certification specific to tree work. He noted that New York is moving away from cranes and municipalities are selling their cranes. That means there are many more contractor crane operators, who may not be used to using cranes for tree work.

Observer comments for Topic #4
  • One observer noted that anyone can rent a $50K chipper. A landscaping crew that does a specific tree job can also rent this equipment. The mini lifts are also mainly owned by rental companies. Almost all of these lifts are not insulated and are designed for working inside at an office building. This is a big issue in the landscaping industry, because companies do not want to buy one when you can rent for a day or two.
  • A second observer commented that many more companies are using cranes than before. Training is needed to operate cranes safely and properly. The observer is often hired by other companies to use a crane. Tree care crane work is very different than crane work in construction. There is cross over, such understanding load charts, but training for the use of cranes in tree care operations needs to be specific to the industry.
Topic #5: Information and training
Training and workplace safety and health information provided

One stakeholder pointed out that training in public employment is all over the map. No training programs are standardized. Employers and supervisors often make the assumption that if workers have used the equipment at home they do not need additional training. Public employers rely heavily on on-the-job training and sometimes the experienced employees are not using tools or performing tasks correctly. She noted that training is worse for natural disaster response. Workers need detailed training on chainsaws, ladders, non-power tools, pre-inspection, and proper techniques for pruning and cutting back trees, especially for department of public works employees doing street work. Other areas of needed training include: proper use of PPE specific to tree trimming and equipment and training for natural disasters. She noted that training needs to be in the workers' native languages, and needs to be interactive, not PowerPoint presentations.

Another stakeholder noted that the ANSI Z133 committee considered having a separate section to address training in the 2006 revision. Training is mentioned in every piece of the document in some form, however, making it difficult to consolidate the information into one section.

One stakeholder described training from a utility line clearance perspective. Utility line clearance workers are subject to the training requirements in 29 CFR 1910.269. Line clearance arborists approve of documenting training processes. A new line clearance arborist will be trained in the following topics: PPE, electrical hazards, hand tools, mobile equipment, qualifying under DOT regulations if they are going to be a driver, plus the skill sets of their particular job. The stakeholder utilizes interpersonal training, videos, instructor observation, and safety training in the field. The organization will have weekly tailgate meetings on dedicated topics.

Another stakeholder described new employee orientation and training for line clearance trimming. Workers have orientation that takes them from day one through day 30, which covers basic OSHA safety topics and the company culture and expectations. Training is very job specific after those first 30 days: ground workers, climbers, bucket operators, etc. The organization has written their own training materials, using some materials developed by TCIA and manufacturers. Ground workers complete chapters 1-10, for example, and 10-15 if they want to become a climber. Employees physically demonstrate they can complete the skills in front of a foreman, similar to the military. The stakeholder's company has also implemented refresher training, continuing education requirements that employees have to complete on a regular basis. The organization is also developing training for their general foremen to help them lead people, offer feedback, and gauge performance.

One stakeholder noted that beyond the annual or refresher training, he likes retraining after an incident or if someone is observed doing something wrong. Training has to include adult learning principles; needs to be interactive. Training cannot just be reading a document and signing a form. Another stakeholder also strives to train after near hits or near misses. The stakeholder also emphasized effective reporting. If an organization does not have effective reporting, they will not get an accurate picture during an assessment. Employees are often wary of reporting, because they do not want to be retrained. Within the job-specific training, the stakeholder adds in management training so that supervisors know how to manage safety issues. The stakeholder is also using GoPros, virtual reality, and drones for training.

One stakeholder observed that it is crucial in a safety culture to train middle management, who tend to be the busiest employees. The top employees and employees in the field understand the safety culture. The stakeholder is not sure how to address this in a potential standard. The stakeholder pointed out that most incidents happen in the summer, so his company has developed a Summer Sizzlers program. This includes a tailgate talk on Monday, a Thursday tailgate talk that is a quiz about the Monday talk, and a Wednesday Summer Sizzler. Summer Sizzlers address leading indicators: hydration, driving issues, etc. The stakeholder also ensures that every one of his corporate supervisors is a Certified Treecare Safety Professional (CTSP) and that they are working towards becoming an ISA certified arborist. Half are already ISA certified, and the other half are trying. The stakeholder also noted that outside safety vendors are worth the cost if an organization does not have the expertise in-house.

The same stakeholder described how his company makes training more interactive and interesting, as opposed to sitting through PowerPoint presentations. The stakeholder has total safety culture meetings, in which participants discuss critical behaviors and behavior safety concepts. Employees are supposed to have one each year. The company has been holding safety days at outside locations with different stations: tree rescue station, knot tying station, etc. Employees are much more interested in this than sitting in a classroom.

Another stakeholder noted that the companies represented at the stakeholder meeting are able to document and put substantial resources into training. TCIA represents a large number of small companies. As the regulation process goes forward OSHA will have to look at interests of small companies who do not have the structure to document training. An incompetent person must at least be supervised by a competent person until they receive proper training and can demonstrate applicable skills. Companies up to five employees can be successful without structured training and just providing direct supervision. It gets harder after that point. A lot of companies develop their own trainings and some competency checklists.

Another stakeholder commented that training needs to be reproducible and consistent. The stakeholder's organization has had success with video training: knots, doing a 360 walk around of a truck, etc. Because of differences in language employers need to write things at a lower reading level. A lot of materials were written to a twelfth grade level, and have been changed to a fifth grade level.

Accessible training

One stakeholder observed that there are many untrained people in the field doing this work, especially Spanish-speaking grounds workers. There are still a lot of small to medium employers trying to provide training. There is a lack of affordable Spanish language training materials and trainers. The existing training in Spanish is not very high quality. Sometimes workers do not understand why they are supposed to do X, Y, and Z because of the literacy or language barrier. Workers do not have the opportunity to learn about workers' rights and what OSHA is in smaller and medium sized companies. The OSHA 10 card does not fit this industry very well, either. She also complimented the Susan Harwood training grants, which has been a tremendous source of Spanish language training for electrical hazards and other safety topics.

Another stakeholder described a heavily used training program, called tailgate safety. A topic is presented orally with some visible reminders. The typical company usually provides one or two tailgate lessons per week. Presenters can make it fit to an incident that happened recently, or can make it related to new work functions. Training increases knowledge, but also adjusts attitudes and keep people at a high level of awareness.

One stakeholder found that bringing down reading difficulty to a fifth grade level is effective.

Natural disaster response training

A stakeholder saw many volunteers during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita with no training, which made the situation worse. The stakeholder developed on-the-go training kits on basic topics, which can be completed in 20-30 minutes. Sometimes there is no electricity after a disaster. CSEA developed "Protecting Yourself While Helping Others," which is the packet they use to train volunteers for natural disaster response.

Temporary workers and day laborers

A stakeholder asked OSHA to define "temporary worker" and "day laborer" for us. OSHA replied that temporary workers come from an agency; a dual or joint employer situation. Day laborers do not have an employer starting out, and are hired for some short period of time. None of the stakeholders answered that they have hired temporary workers. One stakeholder said he has seen a company every so often that has hired temporary workers, usually in Florida.

Tree care operations NAICS code

Technology has advanced and there needs to be training that comes with that. Tree care is currently viewed as non-skilled industry, but their work is highly skilled. This is an unfair stigma, because of the highly skilled employees needed in the industry. 90 percent of people have 10 years of experience. 50 percent have a college degree. 75 percent have some college experience. They are not day workers; they are doing this as a career.

One stakeholder noted that the NAICS code is very broad and encompasses much more than the tree care industry. This needs to be considered when looking at statistics. A second stakeholder attempted to separate line clearance and residential/commercial tree care data using the old SIC code, but was unsuccessful. The current NAICS code includes arborist work (residential/commercial and line clearance) in combination with landscape services (landscape maintenance, landscape installation, cemetery grounds work, sod growing, etc.). The data for his specific industry becomes skewed. More and more clients are evaluating vendors based on what is published by BLS against the industry average baseline total recordable injury rate (TRIR). The data are not necessarily accurate when various types of work are grouped in together. It would be helpful to be able to separate out the arborist work, which would help companies benchmark against their specific industry.

OSHA personnel replied that they cannot promise any changes to the NAICS code, which is a code used by all of North America. OSHA has economists who can tease out data in clever ways, however. OSHA is required by executive order to estimate the benefits of any proposed standard, so OSHA would need to get this information before drafting a tree care operations standard, and would not be able to simply use the NAICS code average.

Observer comments for Topic #5
  • One observer noted that training makes sense when an employee has no experience, but it is also important to document competencies.

5 Wrap-Up and Next Steps

Amy Wangdahl thanked the meeting participants and observers and noted that OSHA would like to receive written comments, more data about fatalities and accidents, and any hazard identifications or checklists that were mentioned during the stakeholder meeting. Any additional materials can be submitted to treecareoperations@erg.com. Ms. Wangdahl also noted that the stakeholder meeting summary report will be in the docket and on the OSHA website by the end of August and will not have attribution.

Appendix A
List of Participants and Observers

PARTICIPANTS
  • Surender Ahir
  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration
  • Washington, DC

  • Paola Arcos
  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration
  • Washington, DC

  • Robert Bell
  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration
  • Washington, DC

  • Diana Matthew Brown
  • AFSCME
  • Washington, DC

  • Peter Gerstenberger
  • Tree Care Industry Association
  • Londonberry, NH

  • Daniel Glucksman
  • International Safety
  • Equipment Association
  • Arlington, VA

  • Bradford Hammock
  • Jackson Lewis
  • Reston, VA

  • Tom Johnson
  • Bandit Industries
  • Remus, MI

  • Joshua Kemp
  • CSEA
  • East Syracuse, NY

  • David Marren
  • F.A. Bartlett Tree Expert
  • Charlotte, NC

  • Elizabeth Marshall
  • Rutgers School of Public Health
  • Piscataway, NJ

  • Bruce Mellot
  • Asplundh Tree Expert Co.
  • Willow Grove, PA

  • William Perry
  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration
  • Washington, DC
  • Scott Prophett
  • F.A. Bartlett Tree Expert
  • Charlotte, NC

  • Randy Rabinowitz
  • OSH Law Project
  • Washington, DC

  • Matthew Rehlander
  • Carolina Tree Care
  • Concord, NC

  • Andrew Ross
  • RTEC Treecare
  • Falls Church, VA

  • Sarah Shortall
  • Department of Labor
  • Office of the Solicitor
  • Washington, DC

  • James Skiera
  • International Society of Arboriculture
  • Champaign, IL

  • John Sullivan
  • Lewis Tree Service
  • West Henrietta, NY

  • Joseph Tommasi
  • The Utility Line
  • Clearance Coalition
  • Kent, OH

  • Julie Tremblay
  • 3M PSD
  • St Paul, MN

  • Barbara Upston (Facilitator)
  • MCA
  • Bethesda, MD

  • Timothy Walsh
  • Davey Tree Expert Company
  • Kent, OH

  • Amy Wangdahl
  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration
  • Washington, DC

  • Acie Zachary
  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration
  • Washington, DC
OBSERVERS
  • Nicholas Bomber
  • SavATree
  • Bedford Hills, NY

  • Earl Burnside
  • Penn Line Safety Service, Inc.
  • Scottdale, PA

  • Will Campbell
  • Senate HELP Committee
  • Washington, DC

  • Michelle Coon
  • The Townsend Corporation
  • Muncie, IN

  • Danielle Dole
  • USMWF
  • Alexandria, VA

  • Pete Dominguez
  • Pacific Gas & Electric
  • San Francisco, CA

  • Raymond Eager
  • Gap Power
  • Narvon, PA

  • Mark Garvin
  • Tree Care Industry Association
  • Londonderry, NH

  • Elizabeth Garza
  • NIOSH
  • Washington, DC

  • Gary Gavin
  • Walt Disney World
  • Lake Buena Vista, FL

  • Chris Genell
  • Asplundh Tree Expert Co.
  • Willow Grove, PA
  • Steve Gillard (note-taker)
  • ERG
  • Arlington, VA

  • Gloria Gonzalez
  • Crain Communications
  • Washington, DC

  • Joseph Jimmo
  • PennLine Corporation
  • Scottdale, PA

  • Heather Jordan
  • Rutgers School of Public Health
  • Piscataway, NJ

  • Alex Julius
  • International Society of Arboriculture
  • Champaign, IL

  • Jocelyn Ladores
  • Madera, CA

  • Todd Lambert
  • Buckingham MFG Co, Inc.
  • Binghamton, NY

  • Richard Loughery
  • Edison Electric Institute
  • Washington, DC

  • Randall Miller
  • Edison Electric Institute/PacifiCorp
  • Salt Lake City, UT

  • John Morris
  • Alabama Power Company
  • Birmingham, AL

  • Colleen Moss
  • Duke Energy
  • Washington, DC

  • Michele Ochsner
  • Rutgers University, School of Management and Labor Relations
  • New Brusnwick, NJ

  • Rocky Palmer
  • Wright Service Corp dba
  • Wright Tree Service
  • West Des Moines, IA

  • Jon Pancoast
  • Southern California Edison
  • Compton, CA

  • Jim Pennefeather
  • Buckingham MFG Co, Inc.
  • Binghamton, NY

  • Michael Pittman
  • IBEW Local 17
  • Southfield, MI

  • Shontell Powell
  • Counsel for ULCC
  • Washington, DC

  • Jeff Racey
  • Duke Energy
  • Aberdeen, NC

  • David Reynolds
  • Inside OSHA newsletter
  • Arlington, VA

  • Loren Rifkin
  • Saf-T-Gard
  • Northbrook, IL

  • Deborah Sweinhart
  • PPL Electric Utilities
  • Allentown, PA

  • Basil Thomson
  • Ulman Public Policy and Federal Relations
  • Washington, DC

  • Josh Ulman
  • Ulman Public Policy and Federal Relations
  • Washington, DC

  • Jeremy Walls
  • Walt Disney Parks and Resorts
  • Davenport, FL

  • Robert White
  • White's Tree Services
  • Kunkletown, PA
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