Rely on Occupational Safety & Health ReporterSM for full news coverage and documentation of federal and state workplace safety and health programs, standards, legislation,...
July 13 — An OSHA rule covering the tree care and trimming industry may have to cover a wide expanse of hazards—from falling tree branches to insect bites to broken aerial lifts to pesticides—agency officials were told July 13 during a meeting with industry representatives.
The stakeholders meeting was the latest step in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's move to restart a rulemaking focused on protecting workers who cut and trim trees (81 Fed. Reg. 38,117).
While OSHA has regulations focused on logging, the agency doesn't have specific rules for most types of tree trimming.
William Perry, head of OSHA's Directorate of Standards and Guidance, said that the agency hasn't yet set a timeline for pursuing the rule. OSHA is still in an information-gathering phase and needs to determine if a tree care rule would trigger a Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act review.
While many in the audience might favor OSHA simply adopting the voluntary American National Standards Institute consensus tree-trimming standard (ANSI Z133-2012), the agency can't adopt the standard as is, Perry said.
OSHA administrators David Michaels told about three dozen people attending the day-long session that the rule should be “common sense” and “usable by employers.”
Often workers injured in tree-trimming accidents had little training or protective equipment and if training was offered, it may not have been in a language they spoke, Michaels said.
Most of the people attending the meeting, favored OSHA's pursuit of a rule.
Mark Gavin, president of the Tree Care Industry Association, said many lawmakers were surprised that the association came to them seeking support for the tree care rule.
OSHA in 2008, at the urging of the association, initiated a tree trimming rulemaking (73 Fed. Reg. 54,118) then set the project aside in 2010. The agency resurrected the rulemaking (RIN:1218-AD04) in 2015.
Peter Gerstenberger, the association's safety director, said that from 2009 through 2013 there had been 408 tree care fatalities. Falls and being hit by tumbling branches are the most dangerous risks for workers in aerial buckets or climbing.
On the ground, workers are most at risk from falling trees and branches, however power tools such as chainsaws and chippers were also a hazard, Gerstenberger said
Participants said many of the deaths among workers on the ground were attributable to a lack of training and safety precautions, such as not allowing workers under a tree and inside a tree's potential fall zone while trimming was taking place.
John Sullivan, a safety official with Lewis Tree Service, said that when he joined the company several years ago it was common for workers to be under trees while cutting was going on. Since then, the culture of the company changed to discourage workers from being under trees and now drop zones are marked with orange cones.
Representatives from the large tree care companies such as Asplundh Tree Expert Co. and Carolina Tree Care said their safety practices call for hazard analysis and team meetings before work on trees begins.
The industry's challenge is that while large companies and many small employers have safety protocols, others treat tree work as an unskilled task, representatives said. For example, companies hand workers chainsaws without on-the-job safety training or expect workers to climb a dead or rotting tree.
To contact the reporter on this story: Bruce Rolfsen in Washington at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2016 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)