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Cal/OSHA Cites Tree Trimming Company after Brush Chipper Fatality

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AMERICAN CANYON, Calif., Feb. 5, 2018 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Cal/OSHA has cited Gorilla Tree Service for serious and accident-related workplace safety violations following an investigation of a brush chipper accident that killed a 24-year-old worker in Napa.

On August 15, 2017, the employee was working on the ground as part of a two-person crew removing limbs from a liquidambar tree when a rope used to lower limbs from an aerial bucket was caught and pulled into the chipper, strangling him.

Cal/OSHA’s investigation found that Gorilla Tree Service was unable to certify it had properly trained the worker, who had been employed at the company for about six months.   

“Tree work is a high-risk industry, and safety requirements are in place to protect workers from known hazards,” said Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum. “Employers must ensure that workers are effectively trained to use brush chippers and other dangerous machinery safely.” 

Cal/OSHA cited Gorilla Tree Service $23,200 for seven violations including one serious accident-related, one serious and five general violations for the employer’s failure to:

Provide documented training records for workers to certify that they had completed the required tree work and CPR training. Brief workers before starting the job, including a description of hazards, work procedures and appropriate protective equipment. Ensure the chipper was equipped, maintained and operated in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations. Cal/OSHA found the chipper’s moving parts of belt and pulley drives were not guarded as required. Prevent entanglement hazards and unwanted material from entering the point of operation on the chipper.

Tree workers are 56 times more likely to suffer a fatal occupational injury than workers in all industries combined. The major causes of tree worker injuries and fatalities include falls, electrical shock, being struck by a tree branch, chainsaw lacerations, palm tree skirt collapses and ladder accidents.

Over the past six years, brush chipper-related incidents in California resulted in one fatality and four serious injuries:

A worker was killed in 2012 while feeding brush into a chipper in Nevada City when a rope binding the brush became entangled in the chipper drum and looped around the worker’s neck. The force on the rope was so great that the worker was decapitated. In Los Angeles County in 2012, a worker was hospitalized from injuries caused by a chipper. Two workers were removing a tree using rope and a brush chipper. One of the

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