A high number of tree trimming and clearing fatalities in OSHA

OSHA Launches Tree Trimming Safety Emphasis Program

The regional program is an effort of OSHA's Philadelphia Area Office. In the larger Philadelphia Region, 47 fatalities resulted from tree trimming and clearing from 2009 through 2013, according to the agency.

A new regional emphasis program has been launched in OSHA's Philadelphia Area Office that is focused on safety in tree trimming operations. There were 243 worker deaths nationwide in 2012 during tree trimming and clearing activities, according to OSHA. In OSHA's Philadelphia Region -- Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia, Virginia – 47 occurred from 2009 through 2013, and 79 percent of the deaths involved employers with 10 or fewer workers.

The Philadelphia Area Office includes Philadelphia, Chester, and Delaware counties. "Tree trimming and clearing can be hazardous work that results in worker fatalities. These hazards exist whether the work is performed as part of landscaping/horticultural service or site clearing by construction workers," said MaryAnn Garrahan, OSHA's regional administrator in Philadelphia. "It is vital that employers take the necessary steps to protect workers engaged in these activities."

As part of the emphasis program, personnel from the Area Office will inspect employers in the industry and will offer compliance assistance. Philadelphia Region Area Offices are sending notification letters to 2,110 stakeholders, including employers, employee labor groups, and tree care trade associations.

According to OSHA, the four leading causes of these deaths are struck-by hazards, caught-in hazards, falls from elevation, and electrical shock. "These accidents included, but were not limited to workers being struck by falling trees and limbs; workers struck by motorized equipment; falls from trees, lifts, and ladders; workers caught in chippers; and electrical shock suffered while working near overhead power lines," according to the agency's announcement.

For information on tree trimming safety and relevant OSHA standards, visit http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/treecare/index.html#recognition.

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