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Too many workplace injuries in California tree trimming industry

The nature of the work of tree trimmers in California will always put them at significant risks. According to the California Division of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, four workers suffered fatal workplace injuries within a six-week period starting on Dec.1. On that day, a branch struck and killed a tree trimmer and suffocation by palm fronds caused another worker's death three days later. After falling 60 feet, a trimmer died on Jan.6, and an employee who was clearing a tree away from a power line was struck and killed on Jan.9.

Further information provided by Cal/OSHA reveals that the agency investigated almost 70 tree-related workplace accidents in the two years leading up to Sept. 30, 2016. About three in every four of these recorded incidents resulted in the hospitalization of injured workers, and 12 of those did not survive their injuries. The analysis shows that falls, chainsaw accidents, electrical shocks and ladder accidents proved to be the primary causes of fatalities and injuries in this industry.

Tree trimming company owners must provide workers with appropriate safety equipment and ensure all employees are adequately trained to deal with the safety hazards they will face on the job. Training involves more than learning rapid climbing of a tree and managing a chainsaw. Workers are entitled to report unsafe workplace environments and practices.

Sometimes, tree trimmers who are victims of workplace injuries are unaware of the fact that their employers are unlicensed contractors without workers' compensation coverage. This can lead to serious financial ramifications for a worker who might be unable to return to work. In such circumstances, the best person to ask for advice might be an experienced California workers' compensation attorney. He or she can suggest the most appropriate way in which to proceed to obtain recovery of medical expenses and lost wages.

Source: bakersfield.com, "Community Voices: Unlicensed tree trimmers can leave you out on a limb", Wm. Todd Berry, March 7, 2017

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