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OSHA addresses workers' injuries and fatalities of tree trimmers

Following the recent deaths of two workers in the tree trimming industry, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration decided to address the issue in a bulletin that outlines the various hazards to which tree trimmers are exposed. This is an effort to reduce the number of workers' injuries and fatalities. According to OSHA, too many workers in California and elsewhere lose their lives in avoidable workplace accidents.

OSHA says employers of tree workers are aware, or should be aware, of the safety hazards, but safety regulations are often disregarded. Employers have to take the necessary steps to inform workers of potential hazards and provide safety training to equip workers with the knowledge to enable them to prevent workplace accidents. After investigating the two fatalities that gave rise to the bulletin, OSHA reported that both deaths resulted from safety violations by the employers.

OSHA listed some safety responsibilities of employers, including a proper assessment of the work site to identify potential hazards. A survey by a qualified arborist is recommended. To protect workers from falling objects, dangerous areas -- or drop zones -- should be identified and kept clear of workers at all times. Regardless of whether workers have to climb or be lifted by aerial lifts, fall protection should always be worn. OSHA also underscored the importance of audible and visual communication methods to be used between the ground and overhead workers.

California families who have to cope with the loss of loved ones who suffered fatal workers' injuries will likely face several hardships. It will be necessary to come up with funds for end-of-life expenses, and there will also be a sudden lack of financial contribution due to a worker's death. Fortunately, a claim may be pursued with the workers' compensation insurance fund to cover funeral and burial costs, other expenses and to provide financial assistance for covered dependents due to the lost wages occasioned by the worker's death.

Source: ehstoday.com, "OSHA Hazard Bulletin Details Tree-Trimming Hazards and Safety Measures", Josh Cable, March 13, 2015

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