Tree care employers and employees in South Carolina may be aware that OSHA has no single safety standard for their industry. This is unfortunate because tree care is considered one of the most hazardous industries out there. Though a stakeholder meeting in 2016 pushed to have a proposal for tree care rulemaking back on the Regulatory Agenda (it was removed once due to insufficient resources), OSHA has not taken further action.
However, OSHA has released an informational document on five major hazards in the tree care industry and the ways that employers can prevent them from causing injuries and death. The five hazards are wood chippers, aerial lifts, power lines, drop zones, and traffic control. Workers are liable to be struck by cars, electrocuted, injured by falling tree limbs, and injured in a fall. The document is two pages in length and provides additional resources concerning each hazard.
OSHA’s prevention tips are both general and concrete. For example, employers should inspect trees as well as the work site prior to a project. Workers should set the brakes when the outriggers on an aerial lift are in use. Those on the lift should wear a harness or belt that’s attached to the bucket. They should also stay 10 feet away from power lines. These are just a few of the tips.
Still, accidents can happen. Regardless of who was negligent, victims are eligible for benefits under the workers’ compensation program, which could cover medical expenses, past and (in case of a permanent disability) future lost wages, and pain and suffering. This is where a lawyer may be helpful. Workers’ compensation lawyers may be able to guide their clients through the filing process, bring together the paperwork and the proof of the accident with the help of investigators, if necessary, and negotiate for a reasonable amount.