If you’ve ever wondered how dangerous a career in tree care can be, chances are you never knew just how perilous. Tree care workers have a fatality rate fifteen times higher than all other industries. Compared with other industrial industries tree service company workers are 3 times more likely to succumb to a fatal injury at work. Non-fatal injuries are three times more likely among tree care workers compared to all other industries. For this and many other reasons always make sure the company you’re hiring is insured, bonded, subscribes to workers’ compensation, and have licensed Arborists on staff for consultations and project management.
Legal Issues & Compliance
Currently there are no OSHA regulation specifically for tree care workers, although industry leaders have called upon the government to take action to identify guidelines specifically for tree care workers. However, tree care workers and Arborists must abide by OSHA’s general industry standards (29 CFR 1910).
In Texas a homeowner or property owner can be held liable for personal injuries sustained by workers performing tree service at your home under premises liability laws. In fact, a tree service company that has recently conducted a tree inventory or TRAQ tree risk inspection and failed to identify a tree hazard can be held jointly liable for damage claims.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott was jogging in River Oaks in 1984 when a large oak tree snapped and crushed his spine, leaving him paralyzed from the waste down. He sewed the property owner, then a prominent high profile divorce lawyer Jim Moore, and Davey Tree Experts, winning a $5.8 million dollar settlement in 1986.
This is exactly why you should hire an experienced, licensed Arborist to care for your trees that is bonded, insured, and subscribes to workers’ compensation. In the event of any injuries to workers or other people the tree insurance company’s liability insurance is meant to cover any unexpected injuries or property damage.
Safety, Training, & Hazard Documentation
The Texas Department of Insurance’s Department of Workers’ Compensation published this guide highlighting important facts, hazards, safety standards, and protocols for homeowners and tree care workers alike. According to a study conducted by Rutgers University,
“Tree care workers have one of the most dangerous jobs in America, regularly encountering heights, slippery conditions, falling limbs, sharp equipment and electrical wires. The incidence of injuries increases after storms when unqualified “storm-chasers” with chainsaws and landscaping companies offer their services to uninformed homeowners.”Elizabeth Marshall, Environmental and Occupational Epidemiologist at Rutgers School of Public Health
Types of Tree Worker Injuries
40% of tree service worker fatalities occur because of falls, trips, or slips while the single most fatal cause is falls. The second highest cause of death among tree experts, arborists, and tree care workers is contact with equipment or other objects. Examples of dangerous equipment contact includes chainsaws, stump grinders, and industrial wood chipper accidents. The most fatal type of contact occurs from falling trees and branches.
Verify your tree company’s insurance and ensure they have an arborist on staff overseeing the project that has a current certification from the International Society of Arborists (ISA) You can look them up at treesaregood.org.
1.Rutgers University. “Tree care workers need better training to handle dangers on the job.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 March 2018. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/03/180316153856.htm>.
2. [BLS] Bureau of Labor Statistics. 2018. Survey of occupational injuries and illnesses. Table R100. Incident rates for nonfatal occupational injuries involving days away from work per 10,000 full-time workers. https://www.bls.gov/iif/oshwc/osh/case/cd_r100_2017.htm.