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Tree care employers receive new OSHA guidelines

Tree care workers and business owners in California will want to know about a new OSHA document that addresses five major hazards in their industry. The two-page document, which was published in early February, lays out risk factors, gives employers tips on how to mitigate hazards and provides other resources.

Currently, there is no official OSHA standard for the tree care industry. Instead, OSHA relies on various guidelines to address the industry dangers. A petition to create a permanent standard prompted OSHA to issue an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, but a lack of resources led to the removal of this from the organization's agenda.

The hazards listed in the publication are, as might be expected, connected to each other. For example, the first factor is traffic control; tree care experts ought to create a safe work zone free from cars and pedestrians. This also ties in to the need for fall zones, which can prevent any injuries due to another hazard, namely falling objects. Tree trimmers and the workers below should also have a system of communication in place.

Other hazards to watch out for involve power lines and aerial lifts. Workers should wear a harness or safety belt and be attached to the lift. They should also stay at least 10 feet away from power lines. Issues surrounding wood chippers rounded out the five hazards mentioned in the document.

Tree care employees who suffer on-the-job injuries should know that they have the right to file for workers' compensation. While states can place a cap on settlements, the benefits can be paid out regardless of who, if anyone, was at fault in the accident. Victims can retain a lawyer to help ensure that they get the maximum settlement possible.

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