Protecting Workers from Falling Tree Limbs

Whether you work in tree care or some other industry, there is a heightened risk of falling tree limbs when workers spend a lot of time in the great outdoors. Tree limbs can fall on workers for a variety of reasons, and the results of one of these accidents can be catastrophic. A worker can become seriously hurt being struck by a falling object or by coming into contact with power lines brought down by falling tree limbs. 

According to OSHA, every employer is required to furnish a workplace that is free from recognized hazards that could cause or are likely to cause physical harm or death. If a tree falls on and injures or kills a worker, this could be a violation of that duty. Here’s how to recognize some of these hazards, ways to protect workers from harm, and steps to take if you are injured by a falling tree limb. 

Recognizing the Hazards of Falling Tree Limbs

Any property with mature trees creates a risk of falling tree limbs. A large tree limb can be incredibly heavy, sometimes weighing hundreds of pounds. A limb falling from a tree without warning can cause severe injury to a worker or even death. 

The degree of hazard depends on a variety of factors, such as the size of the tree and other hazards in the area, like live power lines. Some things that can weaken tree limbs and cause failure include:

  • Storm damage
  • Dead limbs
  • Split trunks caused by frost or wind
  • Diseased roots
  • Fungal damage
  • Fire damage

According to OSHA, some of the most common types of accidents causing serious injury or death include:

  • Workers being struck by a tree, including cases where a tree being cut falls forward onto a worker or a tree being cut by a co-worker falls onto a worker;
  • Workers being injured or killed when a portion of a tree falls while performing rope handling activities from the ground; and
  • Electrocutions occur when a fallen tree limb comes into contact with electric transformers or high-voltage lines and a worker.

How Employers Can Protect Workers from Falling Tree Limbs

Mainly propelled by an alarming rise in the number of incidents in the landscaping and tree industries, OSHA launched the Regional Emphasis Program several years ago in an effort to reduce injuries in these industries. This program addresses how to keep workers who are working around trees safe, and the guidelines can be applied to any industry. 

OSHA encourages employers to take steps to eliminate or reduce hazards related to site preparation and tree trimming as well as implement effective safety strategies. OSHA recommends employers use the following strategies to protect workers from injury caused by falling tree limbs:

  • Safety instruction must be provided to all workers on safe work procedures and special techniques for working around trees and power lines. 
  • A qualified supervisor must inspect the job site prior to commencing work and brief the crew on any specific safety hazards. 
  • A qualified person should closely inspect a tree’s root collar, trunk, and limbs for strength before climbing. 
  • If there are doubts about the safety of climbing a tree, consider using aerial devices like lifts. 
  • Postpone tree work if there are unfavorable weather conditions, such as rain, ice, or high winds. 
  • Clearly mark work zone boundaries with safety tape, cones, or some other conspicuous markings. 
  • Establish clear methods of communication between workers on the job site. 
  • Workers in an aerial lift or suspended in a tree must provide clear warnings to the ground crew. 
  • The ground crew must acknowledge warnings given by workers from above before work can proceed. 
  • Workers should not turn their back to a tree when branches are being cut. 
  • Workers must be provided with and trained on the proper use of safety equipment and personal protective equipment (PPE), such as harnesses, tree saddles, belts, hard hats, high visibility clothing, and safety glasses. 

Have You Been Injured by a Falling Tree Limb?

If you’ve suffered a workplace injury resulting from a falling tree limb, you should understand that your employer has a duty to provide a safe workplace that protects you from these types of hazards. Proper training and appropriate safety measures are essential components of workplace preparedness. 

Having to report an injury doesn’t mean you’ve done something wrong. As an employee, you have the right medical care and other benefits after a work-related injury. To learn more about protecting yourself from workplace hazards and asserting your rights before or after an accident, contact an OSHA Injury Attorney directly. 

Keeping Roofers Safe – OSHA Regulations for Rooftop Work

If you work on roofs as part of your job, you are employed in a dangerous profession. While skilled labor is necessary to install, inspect, maintain, and repair roofs, accidents and injuries happen with regularity. But there are safety standards in place to reduce risks and lower accident rates. 

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has established a variety of safety standards that apply to rooftop work. Here’s why these regulations are necessary and a list of many of the OSHA standards that apply to roofers. 

Roofing Accidents and Injuries Are Far Too Common

Roofing accidents are a serious issue in the United States. Each year, approximately 100 roofers die in work-related accidents, making it one of the most dangerous occupations in America. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the rate of injuries for roofing contractors in 2021 was around 3.6 for every 100 full-time workers, an increase from 3.3 just one year prior. In one year alone, roofers sustained over 5,900 nonfatal injuries, such as fractures, sprains, strains, and muscle tears. 

OSHA Regulations for Rooftop Work to Keep Roofers Safe

The above statistics are a stark reminder of the dangers of rooting work. They also highlight the importance of proper training for roofing workers and safety measures in this industry, as well as the need for employers to take responsibility for the welfare and safety of their workers. 

Fortunately, OSHA has created many safety standards that apply to roofers. Here are several essential safety requirements for this type of work:

1. Fall Protection

According to OSHA’s roof fall protection standards, there must be fall protection in place when roofers are working at heights six feet or more above another level on a construction site or four feet in other industries. When exposed to these heights, the standards for rooftop protection include:

  • Safety net systems
  • Guardrail systems and safety railings
  • Personal fall protection systems
  • Metal roof fall protection

There is no minimum height if employees are working over any dangerous machinery, equipment, or other hazards. Safety measures must be used. Also, OSHA defines what type of fall protection is required based on the type of roof and how close workers are to the roof’s edge. 

2. Ladder & Scaffolding Safety

Ladders and scaffolding provide workers with a convenient way to access upper work levels. But these materials can also be sources of serious injuries. Employers must train workers on how to safely use ladders and recognize common hazards, such as keeping areas around them clear. 

OSHA requires that scaffolding be designed by a qualified person and only erected and moved by trained workers. Employers must provide safe scaffold access and provide guardrails if the structure is more than 10 feet above a lower level. 

3. Roofing Materials Handling

OSHA requires that materials for roofing work should be kept in a convenient place for workers. For example, carpentry roofing materials should be placed near the roof, and other materials should be stored no further than six feet from the roof’s edge. Materials should also be stored so they don’t create a risk of injury to any workers.

4. Electrical Safety

Many roofers are exposed to overhead powerlines while working, which is a serious electrocution hazard. According to OSHA, employers must protect all workers from these types of risks by grounding, de-energizing the circuits, or guarding them using insulation. 

Many workers also use power tools like nail guns and saws to perform their jobs. OSHA requires that these tools have the proper safety attachments and that workers be adequately trained in their use. 

5. Personal Protective Equipment

Employers have a duty to protect workers from common and recognized workplace hazards. When a hazard cannot be eliminated, OSHA requires that employees wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Roofing workers should be provided with and trained in the use of various PPE such as eye protection, hearing protection, proper footwear, work gloves, and fall arrest or fall restraint equipment. 

6. Weather Hazards

Workers are required to monitor weather conditions and stop rooftop activities if the conditions are unsafe. Some hazardous conditions that may qualify include rain, snow, and heavy wind. Workers must also have the proper training and equipment to deal with extreme cold and heat conditions and only work when safe. 

Have You Been Injured in a Roofing Accident?

If you or a loved one has been hurt doing rooftop work at the direction of an employer, it’s possible that OSHA regulations were not followed. Most employers in the U.S. are subject to OSHA’s standards and ignoring them can lead to catastrophic results for workers and their families. If you’d like to learn more about OSHA’s roofing standards and your rights after an accident, OSHA Injury Attorney can help. 

Electrical Safety on Construction Sites

Electrical hazards account for a large percentage of worker fatalities and construction job site accidents. But with the proper awareness and training programs, these tragedies are largely preventable. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) creates standards that protect worker safety in these situations. Here are some of the most common causes of electrical accidents on construction sites and how following OSHA standards can prevent them. 

Common Electrical Hazards on Construction Sites

According to OSHA, electrical accidents are responsible for nearly 350 construction worker deaths annually. In certain trades, working around electricity is necessary and unavoidable. But no worker should have to risk their life to do a job on a construction site. Some of the common electrical hazards responsible for injuries and deaths on construction sites include:

1. Overhead Powerlines

Most of this country’s electrical lines are still overhead. On construction sites, with scaffolding, cranes, and other large machinery, this can be hazardous if these live wires are touched or accidentally knocked down. When wires fall, they can come into contact with people, flammable objects, or vehicles, creating a deadly situation. 

2. Underground Powerlines

Now that more and more powerlines are being placed underground to protect them from the elements, they pose another risk. Construction workers need to know where these lines are located, or they risk severe injury or death if they strike a live line while digging. 

3. Damaged Equipment and Cords

Construction sites are rough environments. But damaged equipment and electrical cords are more than just an annoyance. They create a serious safety issue for workers. 

4. Inadequate Wiring, Improper Grounding, and Overloaded Circuits

Electrocution risks can vary from shock and burn events to arc flashes to explosions and fires. These hazards can be caused by a myriad of factors, including faulty wiring, reversed polarity, improper cord use, no ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) installed, and improper grounding. 

5. Operating Electrical Equipment in Wet Conditions

Electricity and water don’t mix. But most construction projects will continue moving forward, rain or shine. If electrical equipment gets wet, this increases the risk of electrocution. This is particularly the case if the equipment has frayed cords, is corroded, or isn’t protected with a GFCI. 

6. Failing to Use Fire Retardant Materials

Using materials that are not appropriate for a construction environment can create an electrical hazard. For example, a single spark in an enclosed area could lead to a deadly fire that could be prevented if the right materials had been in place. 

7. Improper Use of Electrical Equipment

Construction workers either using electrical equipment without proper training or using equipment for purposes other than what it was designed are other causes of these serious accidents. 

Safety Tips to Prevent Construction Site Electrical Accidents

OSHA has created workplace standards for a reason – they reduce or eliminate hazards, prevent accidents, and save lives. Here are how some of those standards can prevent electrical accidents on construction sites:

  1. Personal Protection — Employees should wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to safeguard against various hazards. Use of electrical gloves, footwear, and eye protection when working with electrical materials or equipment is recommended. 
  2. Testing Equipment — Workers should never handle equipment or wiring if they haven’t received the proper training or know-how to test the items to prevent potentially deadly shocks. Before use, all equipment should be inspected for missing ground prongs, frayed cords, and cracked tool casings. 
  3. Voltage Regulators and Circuit Breakers — These are vital pieces of safety equipment that can prevent a small issue from becoming a dangerous problem. Surge protection should always be used to shut down power in an emergency. OSHA requires that ground-fault protection be in place on all 120-volt, single-phase, 15- and 20-amp receptacles. 
  4. Proper Use of Extension Cords — OSHA requires that extension cords used on constructions site be of the three-wire types and designed for extra-hard or hard usage. Cords should not be pinched, tangled, or wrapped around metal structures. 
  5. Use Electrical Equipment as Intended — According to OSHA, certified, labeled, and listed equipment shall be installed and used as intended. In other words, it’s not ok to modify or alter equipment, which may create an electrical hazard. 

What If You’ve Been Injured on a Construction Site?

If you’ve suffered a workplace injury due to an electrical hazard on a construction site, it’s important to understand that your employer is obligated to provide a safe workplace that protects you from these types of accidents. Appropriate electrical safety measures and training are vital parts of workplace preparedness. To learn more about asserting your rights and protecting yourself from electrical hazards in the workplace, contact OSHA injury Attorney directly. 

Preventing Deadly Scaffolding Accidents

Employees in the construction industry often work at high heights. In order to accommodate for this, scaffolds are constructed. While scaffolds may provide access to otherwise unreachable levels, scaffold protections and safety standards aren’t always adhered to. In fact, scaffolding accidents lead to numerous injuries and dozens of deaths each year. For one year that Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA) data is available, there were 61 scaffolding-related fatalities recorded, all of which could have been avoided by compliance with OSHA standards. 

When employees work on a job site, they have a duty to adhere to workplace safety standards; however, they also have a right to a safe workplace, which is often the responsibility of the employer. Preventing deadly scaffolding accidents is possible when all of those on a job site, including employers, do their part. Consider the following tips for preventing deadly scaffolding accidents, and call our lawyers directly if you have more questions about your rights or how to stay safe–

Preventing Scaffolding Accidents

When safety regulations are followed, workers are properly trained, and equipment is effective and properly used, it is possible to prevent scaffolding accidents that could lead to devastating injuries. Tips for preventing scaffolding accidents include:

  • Ensure that all workers on a job site are properly trained. When it comes to preventing deadly scaffolding accidents, ensuring that all workers on a job site are properly trained is a critical starting point. Workers should be trained on all aspects of working on and around scaffolding, including:
  • Fall protection standards;
  • Equipment standards and best practices;
  • Scaffold defects and how to identify them;
  • Common scaffold-related hazards and risks;
  • How to work safely on scaffolds; and
  • How much a scaffold can bear in terms of load capacity/weight.

In addition to the above, it’s also important that workers are trained regarding to whom they should report safety violations and what to do if they notice an unsafe situation. 

  • Implement all safety regulations. All safety regulations that are established by OSHA should be properly implemented These include, but are not limited to, regulations pertaining to accessing different levels of scaffolding, the use of fall prevention tactics and harnesses, secure attachment of scaffolds to buildings, keeping scaffolds a safe distance from power lines, inspecting scaffolds and other equipment before each shift, ensuring that scaffolds have proper guardrails, ensuring that each scaffold and landing is equipped with non-slip tread to prevent slip and falls, using safety netting to protect other workers from falling objects, and more. If you have more questions about all of the safety regulations related to scaffolding, talk to an OSHA attorney who can help you to find answers. 
  • Use basic safety precautions and common sense. In addition to making sure that OSHA rules and regulations are followed, it’s also important to use basic safety precautions and common sense when working on or around scaffolding. For example, working in wet conditions can create slip and fall hazards, and should be avoided. Additionally, it is important that workers always keep their hard hats and other safety gear on at all times, always use caution when climbing ladders to different scaffolding levels, and never engage in running or horseplay on scaffolds. Generally staying alert and aware of one’s surroundings, inspecting a site before beginning work, and working at a safe pace is key, too. Of course, any safety violations that are noticed should immediately be reported. It is against the law for your employer to retaliate against you for reporting an unsafe condition in the workplace. 

Know Your Rights if You’re Injured at Work

When an unsafe condition exists and workers are injured as a direct result, it’s important to know what the process is for recovering compensation. Through the workers’ compensation system, a worker who is injured on the job has the right to file a claim for benefits, including medical benefits and some lost wage benefits. In cases where a third party was to blame for the accident, a third-party liability claim can also yield compensation for non-economic benefits. 

Call OSHA Injury Attorney for Help 

If you are injured at work or have concerns about the safety of your workplace, you are not alone. If you have been injured as a result of a scaffolding accident you should contact an OSHA Injury Attorney immediately so they can provide you with advice about what your legal rights are, and represent you if you decide to pursue damages. To learn more about scaffolding safety regulations and what to do when injured in a scaffolding accident, please complete our contact form and we will forward your information to a qualified workplace injury attorney.