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Workplace accidents: Unguarded wood chipper kills tree worker

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health prescribes strict safety rules for the tree services industry. Wood chippers are a significant threat to the safety of tree trimmers. The Department of Industrial Relations says workplace accidents linked to wood chippers within the state since 2012 caused one fatality and four serious injuries.

Cal/OSHA recently reported the outcome of an investigation into the death of a 24-year-old tree worker in Napa County last August. Reportedly, the worker became entangled in a rope that was used to lower the tree limbs from the aerial bucket. Inspectors found that the wood chipper caught the rope, causing the entangled worker to be pulled into the machine.

Among the violations identified by compliance inspectors was the employer's inability to provide certification to document that the deceased worker received adequate training to perform the duties for which he was employed. Furthermore, the company reportedly failed to prepare employees for the hazards of the job, neglected to provide appropriate guidance regarding work procedures and did not supply the correct personal protective equipment. Also, the chipper was not equipped, operated and maintained according to the recommendations of the manufacturer.

When loved ones die in workplace accidents, the impact on surviving family members is devastating. Sometimes, they are left to raise children without the income of the deceased employee. Fortunately, there are resources to help them with the intricacies of filing claims for survivors' benefits with the California workers' compensation insurance program. Death benefits typically include coverage of the costs of end-of-life arrangements and day-to-day living expenses for a predetermined period of time.

Source: Napa Valley, CA Patch, "Napa Firm Cited In Death Of Tree-Trimming Worker", Feb. 7, 2018

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