Trimming overgrown trees and removing dead or damaged trees are essential to maintaining safe properties. An unhealthy or lopsided tree can be a hazard to people, buildings, cars, and other possessions. Yet, tree maintenance and removal are sources of danger as these jobs present certain hazards, such as falling from perilous heights or becoming wounded by dangerous work equipment.
Each year, more than 23,000 tree maintenance professionals are treated for chainsaw accidents, approximately 80 of which are fatal. These and other tree work accidents are preventable with full recognition of the job’s dangers. The following is a list of common tree maintenance hazards for employers to recognize and mitigate for the health and safety of their workers, as well as common tree trimming injuries.
Falling tree branches and other debris are the most common source of injury for tree trimmers. As tree limbs are removed and discarded from high above, team members below clearing debris may be hit.
Working on tall trees means working at great heights. Although harnesses and other safety equipment should be used, accidents still happen. If the strap or clasp fails to do its job, a tree trimmer could fall from a dangerous height or at an awkward angle. These workers may lose their footing while climbing trees, ladders, or even reaching from a high elevation, such as the roof of a house or other structure.
Trees are often situated near overhead power lines. Tree trimmers may encounter these wires while working. Lines that touch tools, clothes, or removed tree limbs may endanger a person working in a tree with live wires. Tree limbs that are being removed may knock out a power line, which can expose workers on the ground to electrocution.
Tree trimmers use heavy equipment to access their work. A worker could become stuck against a branch or pinned against a building. Even simple machines that assist in tree care may malfunction and cause injury, such as a pulley rope that breaks and causes a worker to swing into the tree or a nearby structure.
Lacerations and Amputations
Sharp saws and heavy-duty chippers come with obvious dangers for those who mishandle them. Workers must use caution with sharp and powerful tools, such as chainsaws and chippers. Power tools and machinery come with risks of lacerating or even severing a finger, arm, or other appendage. Even manual saws can cause serious cuts that lead to severe blood loss or serious infection.
Tree trimming and removal involves lots of airborne debris. This is hazardous for workers’ eyes. When removing tree limbs, grinding stumps, or loading a chipper, all team members should wear proper eye protection to prevent eye injuries, such as corneal abrasions.
Animal or Insect Attacks
Many creatures make their homes in trees, including squirrels, raccoons, and chipmunks. Trees can also provide a space for hornets’ nests, beehives, and ant colonies. When a tree cutter threatens their habitat, these animals and insects may attack. Even some birds may become aggressive if they have a nest to protect. A tree trimmer may be bitten by a wild animal or stung by a swarm of angry insects.
Tree work often takes place in hot weather. High temperatures can cause heat stroke if workers fail to stay hydrated. On sweltering summer days, or any day when temperatures rise and the sun beats down, workers should drink plenty of water and make time for breaks. Taking these basic steps can help keep workers from falling victim to injuries caused by heat-induced fatigue.
Jobs that involve employees working with their hands can present ergonomic issues. Tree trimmers work with their entire bodies by climbing, reaching, pulling, lifting, and carrying objects. These actions take a toll on the body. Standing and climbing can be hard on the knees and legs. Bending and lifting heavy tree limbs can damage the back. These and other actions can cause injury, especially when repeatedly using the same muscles. Strains and sprains are common in such physical labor jobs. The vibration caused by using a chainsaw may also cause damage.
Chainsaws and chippers are loud. Workers should be provided with adequate hearing protection while using such loud equipment. Simple earplugs will not suffice; industrial earmuffs or helmets with hearing protection are necessary.
Scrapes, Splinters, and Skin Reactions
Tree trimmers may encounter tree bark or jagged wood pieces that cause injuries. Scrapes and splinters may seem minor, but they should be treated before they become infected. Skin reactions to poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac may cause issues as well, especially for someone who is allergic.
Mt. Laurel Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Kotlar, Hernandez & Cohen, LLC Assist Injured Tree Trimmers
If you were injured as a tree trimmer, the Mt. Laurel Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Kotlar, Hernandez & Cohen, LLC can help you understand your rights and ensure that you receive a fair settlement that addresses all your losses. Call us at 856-751-7676 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Mount Laurel, Cherry Hill, Trenton, and Vineland, New Jersey, as well as Trevose, Pennsylvania, we serve clients throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania.