FedOSHA has published a bulletin using two recent tree trimmer fatalities to highlight the need for safety awareness in the tree industry. According to an article published in the June 20 CalOSHA Reporter, five fatalities have taken place since 2012 relating to falls from trees, falling objects and suffocation by palm fronds falling around a worker. In one fatality cited, a worker was topping a tree from 65’ when the trunk split, dropping the tree top, with worker attached, to the ground. In the second fatality, a worker chipping dropped branches was killed instantly when a branch fell on him.
FedOSHA officials have commented that both fatalities were completely preventable by the employer if safety measures had been taken. The accident investigation related to the fatality caused by the tree top split showed there was rot that could have been identified by a professional arborist. The worker killed in the drop zone should not have been working in the area while limbs were being dropped.
In California the following fatalities have been recorded since 2012:
June 2, 2014- Elk Grove: Tree worker is working when the branches supporting him break and he falls to his death.
May 3, 2014- Los Angeles: A tree worker is cutting a branch when he fatally falls.
June 4, 2012- Los Gatos: A tree being felled hits and kills a worker and injures another.
June 9, and Sept. 22, 2012- Azusa and Los Angeles: Workers killed when palm fronds being cut fall on them, suffocating them.