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Tree-Trimming Safety Program Launched by Department of Labor

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In 2012, there were 4,383 fatal occupational injuries in the United States, while there were an estimated 3 million nonfatal injuries on the job — this number is a result of unsafe work environments, lack of knowledge about equipment, improper and/or lack of use in safety equipment, and unsupervised working.

As a result of these numbers, the United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration is launching a new program to reduce workplace fatalities, specifically ones that occur during tree trimming and clearing operations.

Nationwide, 243 workers died in 2012 while tree trimming and clearing activities. Between 2009 and 2013, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, the District of Columbia, Virginia, and West Virginia had 47 fatalities, with 79% of those involving an employer.

Other labor forces who are subject to fatal injuries are groundwater remediation companies. About 40% of the U.S. population uses groundwater as their first source of drinking water, and roughly 400 billion gallons of water are used in the U.S. every day. 

Groundwater remediation is a process used to remove pollution from groundwater, such as toxins and biological treats. These crews are exposed to many different contaminants, such as radioactive waste and potential water-bourn illnesses. More than 80% of the most serious hazardous waste sites in the country have negatively impacted the quality of nearby ground water, and it’s up to those companies to remove those pollutants.

Tree trimming and removal companies share a common understanding the dangers working on a labor force can bring. “tree trimming and clearing can be hazardous work that results in worker fatalities,” said MarryAnn Garrahan, OSHA’s regional administrator. “It is vital that employers take the necessary steps to protect workers engaged in these activities.”

The first and most obvious thing to do to avoid injury is to leave the area immediately. If you feel that a situation is unsafe, stop what you are doing and re-evaluate. Ask for assistance or how certain machinery or processes work in order to prevent human harm. 

To prevent injuries or fatalities at any job site, be sure to clean slip hazards on any surface that people walk or work on, repair leaking equipment, encourage work staff to wear appropriate footwear and head protection, and pick up any hoses, cords, chains, and turn off all equipment when you’re done using it.

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