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Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez
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News Release

OSHA News Release: [06/19/2014]
Contact Name: Leni Fortson or Joanna Hawkins
Phone Number: (215) 861-5102 or x5101
Email:
uddyback-fortson.lenore@dol.gov or Hawkins.Joanna@dol.gov
Release Number: 14-1197-PHI

New US Department of Labor OSHA initiative aims to protect tree trimming and clearing operation workers in Delaware

Workers in companies with 10 or fewer employees found to suffer more fatal injuries

PHILADELPHIA — In 2012, 243 workers nationwide died while engaging in tree trimming and clearing activities. Reversing this statistic is at the heart of a Regional Emphasis Program announced today by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration to reduce workplace fatalities that occur during tree trimming and clearing operations throughout the area covered by OSHA's Wilmington, Del., Area Office, which includes the state of Delaware.

"Tree trimming and clearing can be hazardous work that results in worker fatalities. These hazards exist whether the work is performed as part of landscaping/horticultural service or site clearing by construction workers," said MaryAnn Garrahan, OSHA regional administrator in Philadelphia. "It is vital that employers take the necessary steps to protect workers engaged in these activities."

OSHA's Philadelphia Region, which includes Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, the District of Columbia, Virginia and West Virginia, had 47 fatalities related to tree trimming and clearing in fiscal years 2009 through 2013, with 79 percent of the fatalities involving an employer with 10 or fewer employees. The four leading causes of these fatalities include struck-by and caught-in hazards, falls from elevations and electrical shock. These accidents included, but were not limited to workers being struck by falling trees and limbs; workers struck by motorized equipment; falls from trees, lifts and ladders; workers caught in chippers; and electrical shock suffered while working near overhead power lines.

Under the Regional Emphasis Program, in addition to inspections of employers in this industry, OSHA will be engaged in outreach and compliance assistance activities. As part of that outreach, the Philadelphia Region Area Offices sent notification letters to 2,110 stakeholders, including employers, employee labor groups and tree care trade associations.

Information on tree trimming safeguards can be found at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/treecare/index.html#recognition.

OSHA is also conducting a national heat campaign this summer to educate both employers and workers about the hazards of working outdoors in hot weather. Every year, thousands of workers become sick from exposure to heat, and some even die. These illnesses and deaths are preventable. More information on heat prevention is available at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatillness/index.html.

To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's Wilmington Office at 302-573-6518 or the agency's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742).

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, OSHA's role is to promote safe and healthful working conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, outreach and education. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.