Tree Trimmer Fatally Falls from Aerial Lift, Firm Fined $39,400

OSHA issued seven serious safety and health violations following the April death of a worker who was ejected from an aerial lift after it was struck by a falling tree.

OSHA has cited Rda Service Co. Inc. of Citronelle, Ala., for seven serious safety and health violations following the April death of a worker who was ejected from an aerial lift after it was struck by a falling tree. Proposed penalties total $39,400.

Alabama Power contracted Rda Service Co. to clear trees from overhead power lines in Webb, Ala. One serious safety violation related to the fatality was cited for failing to ensure that employees were wearing fall protection in an aerial lift.

Three other serious safety violations involve allowing employees to be within the fall zone of a tree being cut down; not ensuring that a retreat path was cleared and designated prior to the felling of the tree; and failing to properly cut the tree to provide an adequate hinge cut, back cut, or hinge wood to ensure the tree falls in the intended direction. Additionally, three serious health violations involve failing to train employees in first aid and CPR, provide adequate first-aid supplies, and offer the hepatitis vaccine to employees exposed to potential bloodborne pathogens.

"Employers need to ensure that proper cuts are made on trees when workers are cutting down large ones, as well as ensure that personnel and equipment are at least two tree lengths from the tree when it is being cut," said Kurt Petermeyer, OSHA's area director in Mobile. "Tragic incidents such as this one can be prevented if employers follow common-sense safety guidelines."

The company primarily performs site clearing, trucking, and tree trimming services.

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