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Arboriculture & Urban Forestry Online
Volume 36, Issue 5 — September 2010

A Survey of United States Tree Care Companies: Part I - Safety Training and Fatal Accidents    (View PDF)

John Ball and Shane Vosberg

Abstract: Tree work has a high accident rate compared to many other occupations. News accounts of recent accidents can be easily accessed through the internet, though this may not provide a true picture of the number and types of accidents occurring. U.S. government bureaus and agencies have produced reports citing the number and circumstances of fatal accidents in the profession. The governmentís information is obtained from many sources and may not accurately identify types or frequency of these accidents. A survey of the accidents and safety training among tree care companies was conducted using a mail questionnaire based on the Tailored Design Method. The company managers responding to the survey overwhelming identified having trained field workers as very important yet only about two-thirds of their companies conducted any training. The training most often conducted was on aerial lifts, chain saws, and chipper, which was provided by company employees in a field setting. Driverís training was not part of a formal safety program for most of the companies. Aerial rescue was practiced by about one-fourth of the surveyed companies. The most common fatal accidents involved contact with an electrical conductor followed by being struck by a falling limb. The relative number of fatal accidents by event or exposure in this survey was similar to that identified by two federal government reports on fatal accident in the field.

Keywords: Arboricultural Accidents; Arboricultural Accident Survey; Safety Training; Tailored Design Method; Tree Care Industry Accidents

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