Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

Falling trees kill workers in separate instances

A contractor in Pennsylvania was killed in a work related fatal injury on February 24th when struck by a falling tree and the employer was cited for various OSHA citations. A second worker was killed in a similar manner at another location in June and faced similar citations.

As a result of this second instance, OSHA cited the company and assessed a fine of $31,175. OSHA officials stated that the employer failed to implement safe practices that would have prevented the worker from being struck by the tree. It was felt that since the occupation of tree clearing is ripe with hazards to begin with, the company needed to be more "aggressive" in its approach to worker safety.

A summary of the OSHA citations for this latest incident would include:

  • Failure to have first-aid supplies on hand.
  • Failure to ascertain that workers were a proper distance from the tree as the tree was being taken down.
  • Failure to properly scope out the area where the work was taking place.
  • Failure to properly train employees concerning equipment use.
  • Failure to properly train employees concerning tree length determinations.

What this tells us is that fines against employers that do not respond to safety concerns for their workers sometimes are effective in forcing that company to practice greater safety in the future. However, such businesses all too often continue to abrogate their responsibility and fail to take into consideration the safety of their workers.

Litigation filed on behalf of workers injured or killed will at least hold these employers accountable that are negligent in protecting their workers.

Source: OSHA Online, "Worker Fatally Struck by Falling Tree, Contractor Fined $31,175," Jan. 4, 2011

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