"In this case, the employer failed to adhere to safe practices, which resulted in the death of an employee when he was struck by a falling tree," said Dean Ikeda, OSHA's regional administrator in Seattle. "The hazardous nature of tree clearing operations requires that employers take an aggressive and comprehensive stance toward workplace safety."
OSHA has issued one citation for serious violations involving failing to have adequate first-aid supplies, ensure that workers maintain a safe distance from trees being felled, evaluate the work area prior to the tree being felled, provide training for tool and equipment use, and provide training for determining tree length. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
One other-than-serious violation has been cited for failing to report the fatality to OSHA within eight hours and to use the agency's toll-free hotline to report the incident after hours. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.
This employee fatality was the company's second in 2011. The first fatality occurred in Pennsylvania on Feb. 24 under similar circumstances and resulted in similar citations.
Proposed penalties for the latest violations total $31,175. The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Boise Area Office at 208-321-2960.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.