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The dangerous work of tree removal after fires in California

The dangerous work of tree removal after fires in California

Those responsible for trimming and removing trees in Irvine and elsewhere in California put their lives on the line every day. The typical hazards of their jobs are exacerbated when they work in fire-damaged areas. The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health requires employers to protect employees from known risks. However, it is essential to allocate each team of tree trimmers with a Qualified Tree Worker to identify and address any dangerous conditions that might arise.

The two primary risks tree workers face are those posed by overhead power lines and struck-by accidents.

Overhead Power Lines

Before work proceeds, the QTW must advise the utility company of the project area to ensure power lines are de-energized. However, workers must regard them as energized. Tree workers face high electrocution risks, even without making contact with the power lines. Indirect contact with energized objects like a tool, a tree limb or equipment could cause deadly electrical shocks. This can happen when the electrical current jumps from the power line to nearby objects.

Struck-by hazards

Tree trimming and removal pose multiple struck-by hazards. The QTW must conduct a job site safety brief, during which a drop zone must be identified. Everybody on site must steer clear of the drop zone, where branches and limbs can be lowered or dropped. Furthermore, workers on the ground and those working on trees must always be aware of each other’s positions and keep eye contact.

These are but two of the occupational hazards faced by tree workers in California. Many work-related injuries in this industry could be debilitating. Fortunately, they might be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, typically covering medical expenses and a percentage of lost wages. Tree workers whose injuries cause permanent disability might receive additional benefits.

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