Fatal workplace accidents a sad reality in tree service industry


The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health recently brought further attention to the hazards faced by tree workers when it proposed penalties exceeding $23,000 for a tree service company. The federal safety agency issued citations for seven safety violations identified during an investigation following an August fatality in Napa. Cal/OSHA says fatal workplace accidents are 56 times more likely to occur in the tree services industry than in all other sectors combined.

Compliance officers reported that the company could not provide records to show that employees received training in tree work and CPR. Reportedly, the company also failed to prepare employees for the hazards and planned procedures before starting a work project, nor were workers equipped with the necessary personal protective gear. Cal/OSHA says the employer did not ensure that equipment was operated and maintained as recommended by the manufacturer.

The incident under investigation apparently occurred when a 24-year-old worker was strangled by a rope that got caught in the working parts of the chipper. Similar circumstances caused the decapitation of a worker in 2015. Investigators determined that the company failed to take measures to prevent unwanted materials from being entangled in the moving parts of the chipper.

Families who have lost loved ones in workplace accidents in California will likely be faced with difficult economic challenges. These might include the expenses related to end-of-life arrangements and the sudden loss of income from the deceased workers. While it will not lessen the heartache, financial relief to ease the burden is available through the workers’ compensation insurance system. Experienced attorneys are available to assist with the navigation of claims for survivors’ benefits.

Source: insurancejournal.com, “Cal/OSHA Cites Tree Trimming Company in Brush Chipper Fatality“, Don Jergler, Feb. 9, 2018

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