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US Labor Dept. targets tree, landscape industry safety

The U.S. Department of Labor has begun a program to reduce worker fatalities and injuries in the tree and landscape services industries across New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

In 2022, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 222 workers in these industries in the U.S. experienced fatal workplace “injuries and illnesses..” Common causes included falls from trees and elevated work platforms; being struck by falling trees, branches or vehicles; electrocution; heat; or chemical exposures.

“We want to make these workplaces safer for all workers in this industry,” said Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Regional Administrator Richard Mendelson in New York. “By intensifying our focus on the tree and landscaping industries, we can help employers provide effective management of worker safety and health protection to reduce the extent and severity of work-related injuries and illnesses.”

OSHA’s new regional emphasis program will educate workers and employers in the mentioned states and territories. The program will consist of providing outreach to employers, employees and stakeholders to raise their awareness of the hazards associated with tree trimming and landscape operations. OSHA will also conduct targeted safety and health inspections of tree trimming and removal, landscaping services and site preparation contractors to assess compliance and reduce employees’ exposure to hazards.

Workers in these industries are exposed to hazards associated with the use of heavy equipment such as cranes, grapplers, stump grinders, loaders and chippers; working at elevation on aerial lifts and other devices; climbing, trimming and removing trees; and operating powered equipment. Those risks are among OSHA’s strategic emphasis areas, including falls, amputations, noise, electrical and struck-by injuries.

The program is scheduled to run through fall 2028.

OSHA also advises small employers to use its On-Site Consultation Program, which offers free assistance in developing safety measures and adhering to federal health standards.

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