Crane Collapse Leads to Florida Tree Trimmer's $70,000 Fine

OSHA opened an investigation after a February incident in which an overloaded 30-ton crane fell during the removal of a 40-foot tree behind a commercial building.

OSHA has cited Sun State Trees and Property Maintenance Inc. in Longwood, Fla., 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 fell during the removal of a 40-foot tree behind a commercial building.

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.

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.

One other-than-serious violation with no monetary penalty was cited for having tools, trash, and other items thrown around the crane's cab.

"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."

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