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Region 4 News Release: 11-950-ATL (349)
July 13, 2011
Contact: Michael Wald      Michael D'Aquino
Phone: 404-562-2078      404-562-2076
Email: wald.michael@dol.gov      d'aquino.michael@dol.gov

Longwood, Fla., tree removal company cited by US Department of Labor's
OSHA for willful and serious safety violations following crane incident

LAKE MARY, Fla. – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Sun State Trees and Property Maintenance Inc. in Longwood for eight safety violations with $70,000 in proposed penalties. The agency opened an investigation after a February incident in which an overloaded 30-ton crane tipped over during the removal of a 40-foot tree behind a commercial building on East Crystal Lake Avenue in Lake Mary.

One alleged willful violation with a penalty of $42,000 was cited for allowing the crane to be put back into service before deficiencies from previous audits and inspections were corrected. A willful violation is one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.

Six serious violations with penalties of $28,000 include overloading the crane's capacity, causing it to tip over; allowing the crane operator to operate the equipment without taking a written examination; permitting the slings to be loaded in excess of their capacity without being inspected; missing identification tags for the slings; and allowing the slings to have tears, cuts and snags. The employer also failed to determine the net capacity of the crane prior to the lifting, develop a preventive maintenance program and conduct running rope inspections. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

One other-than-serious violation with no monetary penalty was cited for having tools, trash and other items thrown around the crane's cab. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.

"This employer was aware of the safety issues regarding this crane but chose to expose workers to the hazards rather than fix them," said Les Grove, OSHA's area director in Tampa. "OSHA will not tolerate this type of negligent inaction."

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The site was inspected by staff from OSHA's Tampa Area Office, located at 5807 Breckenridge Parkway, Suite A, Tampa, Fla. 33610; telephone 813-626-1177. To report workplace incidents, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, call the agency's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742).

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.

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U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The information above is available in large print, Braille, audio tape or disc from the COAST office upon request by calling 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755.


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