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June 16, 2014
Contact: Office of Communications
Phone: 202-693-1999

OSHA issues hazard bulletin to safeguard tree care workers

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration today issued a hazard bulletin about preventing worker fatalities from falls and falling objects in tree care work.

"Too many tree care workers are being hurt or killed by well-known industry dangers that can be prevented if employers take the necessary precautions," said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. "Employers have a responsibility to ensure workers are protected on the job - this includes providing training and making sure workers have the right tools to stay safe."

The hazard bulletin* details two fatal tree care incidents, one caused by a fall and the other by a falling object. In the first, OSHA's investigation found that his employer should have prevented him from being in the tree trimming area or "drop zone." In the other, a worker fell 65 feet when the trunk of the tree he was working on snapped in half. OSHA determined that the employer could have prevented this incident by performing a preliminary examination of the tree before starting work.

The bulletin also lists safety precautions for employers to use before they begin any tree care operations, which include:

  • Assess the worksite for fall and falling object hazards
  • Have a qualified arborist survey the worksite
  • Determine if workers will need to climb or use aerial lifts
  • Establish drop zones where there is a hazard of falling objects
  • Take steps to protect workers from falling object hazards
  • Establish visual and audible communications with overhead and ground workers
  • Have emergency procedures in place

More information on the tree care industry can be found at www.osha.gov/treecare.

OSHA has initiated local and regional emphasis programs that focus on reducing workplace fatalities in the tree trimming industry. As part of emphasis programs in Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, the District of Columbia, Virginia West Virginia, Ohio and Illinois, OSHA will target inspections and direct outreach and compliance resources to the tree trimming and clearing industry. For more information on these emphasis programs, visit https://www.osha.gov/dep/leps/leps.html.

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 www.osha.gov.

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U.S. Labor Department news releases are accessible on the Internet at www.dol.gov. The information in this release will be made available in alternative format upon request (large print, Braille, audiotape or disc) from the Central Office for Assistive Services and Technology. Please specify which news release when placing your request. Call 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755.


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OSHA News Release - Table of Contents

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