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OSHA - Safe tree care

image Joann Natarajan, Compliance Assistance Specialist, OSHA, Austin, TX

SAN ANTONIO - Before beginning any tree care operation, employers need to: Assess the work site for fall and falling object hazards. Assess the sloped ground where ladders or equipment will be used to prevent falls from equipment overturns and ladder slippage; nearby overhead objects or structures; and weather-related hazards.





    Have a qualified arborist survey the worksite and identify the types of trees involved and possible hazards related to tree structure. The qualified arborist  would identify fall hazards and falling  object hazards due to tree condition.
Determine if rigging is necessary and, if so, that workers can use it safely.
Determine if workers will need to climb or use aerial lifts

    Identify and provide without cost properly fitting personal protective equipment to protect workers from fall and overhead falling object hazards, and ensure that the workers use the equipment and are trained in its proper use.
Only use climbing equipment approved by the manufacturer for tree care work, including climbing lines, safety lines, personal fall protection equipment, and inspect all equipment for safe operation before starting work; remove damaged, defective, or worn equipment from service.
    Ensure that all workers at a tree care operation are trained in hazard recognition for falls from elevation and falling object hazards, and the use of personal protective equipment, such as hard hats, to protect against injury from overhead falling objects.

    If workers cannot remain at least 10 feet from electric lines to perform tree care operations, contact the utility company to de-energize and ground the lines.
    Take the following steps to protect workers from falling object hazards: (1) Establish and mark drop zones with equipment, such as cones, where there is a hazard of objects falling; (2) ensure that all workers receive training on procedures  for entering  the drop zone; (3) ensure that ground  workers maintain a distance away from the tree-felling operations that is at least two times the height of the tree; and (4) when using a rope to fell a tree, workers must be at a distance of at least one-and-a-half times the height of the tree being felled.

    Establish a visual or audible communication system between overhead workers and workers on the ground before starting rigging operations for piecing out the tree.

    Provide traffic and pedestrian traffic control around the jobsite prior to the start of the tree care operation.

    Have emergency procedures in place prior to the start of the tree care operation. Determine if the worksite location has cellular telephone coverage and verify that every worker knows the address of the worksite in case they need to summon emergency services to the site. Establish a retreat path for ground  workers so they can escape from falling  trees.

512-374-0271 x232

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