Late fall is the perfect time to cut and trim trees because the wood is driest and the leaves are sparsest. At the same time, the weather is not too cold and still bearable to work in. However, just because it's the ideal time of year to work, remember that accidents can still happen.
Among the many hazards afflicting tree care workers, the most serious and frequently cited are hazards from falls and falling objects, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). These incidents can result in debilitating injuries or even death, so understanding and preventing them is crucial for all employers and worksite supervisors.
Falling object incidents occur when something, usually a piece of tree being trimmed, drops and strikes a worker on the ground. Fall incidents occur when workers fall while working on trees, whether from a piece of equipment or from the tree itself. While both types of incidents have proven to be fatal in the past, a targeted accident prevention program can dramatically reduce the hazards that put employees at risk.
Before beginning any tree care operation, employers should adhere to the following OSHA safety guidelines:
- Assess the work site for possible risks that could increase the likelihood of falling object or fall incidents. These include using ladders on uneven ground, working near overhead objects and in poor weather.
- Consult a qualified arborist to identify hazards arising from the condition of the tree.
- Determine if rigging is necessary to prevent sections of the tree from falling during work. If you decide to use rigging, first make sure your workers can use it safely.
- Establish whether workers will need to climb or use aerial lifts. If you choose to use aerial lifts, be sure they are well-maintained and operating properly. In situations where workers need to climb, ensure they have been trained on the appropriate climbing techniques.
For help designing or implementing a site specific safety plan that can reduce the risk to your employees, Safety Advantage can help. Contact us today for more information about our health and safety training classes.