According to a new report from the Tree Care Industry Association, 2017 saw a 22 percent decrease in tree care worker fatalities and a 16 percent decrease in worker injuries. Out of 129 incident reports that researchers analyzed, 72 involved fatalities. This is an improvement from 2016, when 153 incidents occurred, 92 of them fatal. Tree care workers in Connecticut may be wondering, though, what's being done to enhance their safety.
This is because OSHA currently has no set safety standard for the tree care industry. The TCIA petitioned OSHA for one back in 2006, and though the latter issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, it later struck the proposal from its agenda due to a lack of resources. In 2015, another move was made to implement safety guidelines, and they are currently under "long-term action" status.
The TCIA believes that complacency was a major factor in the fatalities that occurred in 2017: in other words, workers may have let their guard down because of the lack of rules. Fall victims were not properly secured, electrocution victims did not maintain proper distance from power lines, and victims of falling objects were standing in drop zones.
Recently, OSHA published a document listing five major hazards, ways to prevent them, and additional resources. Those hazards include drop zones, aerial lifts, and wood chippers.
Victims of work injuries are eligible for workers' compensation benefits regardless of who, if anyone, was negligent in the incident. They may want to hire a lawyer to ensure the maximum settlement. A lawyer might hire investigators to build up the case before proceeding to the negotiation stage. If the employer was negligent, the lawyer might recommend filing an injury claim instead; the settlement may cover more. If negotiations fall through, the lawyer may decide to litigate.