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News Release

Administrative Law Judge Upholds U.S. Department of Labor Citations In Schenectady, New York, Wood Chipper Fatality Case

NEW YORK, NY – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) willful and serious citations against Tony Watson - doing business as Countryside Tree Service - were affirmed by an administrative law judge with the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. OSHA issued its citations after an employee died after being pulled into a wood chipper on his first day on the job at a Schenectady, New York, work site. The judge’s decision also orders the employer to pay $66,986 in penalties.

OSHA’s investigation revealed that Watson directed the employee to feed materials into the wood chipper, knowing that he had not trained the employee on how to do so safely.

OSHA cited Watson for five violations of workplace safety standards on November 2, 2016. Watson contested the citations to the OSHRC leading to a trial in October 2017. The judge found that Watson willfully permitted the victim to work with the wood chipper without proper safety training, in spite of Watson’s knowledge of the need for such training.

“The U.S. Department of Labor pursues appropriate legal actions to ensure that employers comply with the law to safeguard their employees against potentially deadly or disabling workplace hazards,” said Regional Solicitor of Labor Jeffrey S. Rogoff.

OSHA’s Albany Area Office conducted the original inspection. Senior Trial Attorney Terrence Duncan from the Department’s Regional Office of the Solicitor in New York litigated the case. View the decision here.

OSHA’s Tree Care Industry webpage offers resources on recognizing and preventing tree care hazards, including Hazards of Wood Chippers, and Solutions for Tree Care Hazards.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit

The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.


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Secretary of Labor v. Tony Watson, doing business as Countryside Tree Service.
OSHRC Docket No. 16-2022.

Occupational Safety & Health Administration
October 17, 2019
Release Number
Media Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
Media Contact: James C. Lally
Phone Number
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