How to keep tree workers safe

Kentucky residents and others who cut or trim trees engage in dangerous work. According to the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, landscape workers account for 3.5 percent of workplace fatalities despite making up less than 1 percent of the workforce. Falls, coming into contact with electricity and being struck by objects are the three most common reasons why tree cutters and trimmers get hurt.

While there are no set OSHA rules related to protecting tree care workers, there are ANSI regulations related to protecting workers on the job. These rules govern how to protect workers against energized power lines or being struck by falling branches. However, many employers are not aware of these rules or are otherwise not in compliance with them. In some cases, compliance is mandatory unless there is a specific regulation in place. Despite a lack of rules, OSHA and NIOSH have put in place recommendations to keep workers safe.

For example, companies should consult with workers to develop safety plans. They should also teach employees how to identify hazards and provide them with equipment that can be helpful in case of a fall. Employers and employees are urged to recognize the signs of heat-related illness. These signs may include sweating or dizziness, and workers who are outside in hot weather should be encouraged to stay hydrated.

Individuals who are subject to unsafe working conditions may experience head, neck or other injuries. If a worker is hurt on the job, he or she may be entitled to workers' compensation benefits. These benefits may help a person make up for lost wages or pay for medical bills related to an injury. They are generally available regardless of who was at fault for the accident, and benefits may be available on a long-term basis.

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