Tree care worker safety

Tree care workers in New Jersey may be interested to learn of recommendations made by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration regarding their safety. Tree care operations are considered one of the most dangerous operations in the United States. Based on information from the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, while workers who perform landscape services form less than 1 percent of the nation’s workforce, they make up 3.5 percent of the total number of workplace fatalities. They also constitute 75 percent of the fatalities associated with tree trimming or removal.

According to the Tree Care Industry Association, electrical contact, struck-by injuries and falling accounted for 22, 25 and 31 percent, respectively, of the total number of accidents in recent years. These causes of the tree-related accidents have been constant for some years, and the resulting high count of incidents has been noticed by the OSHA. As a result, programs geared toward landscape and tree care firms have been implemented in a minimum of 19 states.

While OSHA does not have a comprehensive standard pertaining to tree care operations, there are multiple regulations applicable to many hazards and activities in the industry. Most states have their own tree care safety regulations. There is also a national consensus standard that addresses frequently occurring hazards, like being struck by falling branches or trees, wood chippers, chainsaw injuries, live power lines and falling from trees.

An attorney who practices workers’ compensation law may suggest certain legal avenues to pursue for clients who have been injured at high-risk jobs, like those in the tree care operations industry. The attorney may assist with filing initial claims for workers’ compensation benefits and guide clients through the appeal process if they have been denied.

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