Tree Care Industry

Safety and Health Programs

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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.
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.