Tree trimming a dangerous job in Massachusetts

Last week, we wrote about the tragic fatal accident that claimed the life of a Massachusetts tree trimmer. The 26-year-old accident victim, who had been working for the Holliston landscaping company for 10 years, was killed when his chainsaw reportedly came into contact with a high-voltage power line while he was trimming trees.

In the wake of the workplace accident, safety experts say that the tragedy could have been easily avoided if the electric lines had been de-energized before the workers began trimming trees in the area.

A trainer with the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health said that workers should call the local utility company if they are dealing with tree branches that are less than 10 feet from a power line.

The safety expert said that it may seem like a pain at the time to take this extra step, but it can mean the difference between life and death.

“If you can turn it off, de-energize it…The next best thing to do, shield it. The utility companies will do their best to send somebody out. They’ll put these rubber coverings on,” he said.

According to MassCOSH, about one in eight workplace fatalities in Massachusetts last year involved tree work. In 2012, there were a total of four fatalities involving tree work and this year there have been two fatalities so far.

Many workers who are exposed to hazards on the job think that it is something that they must just deal with, but that is not the case. When workers feel that they are in harm’s way, they should immediately report the dangerous conditions to safety officials who can deal with the employers directly.

Source: WBZ-TV, “Safety Experts: Simple Move Can Prevent Tree Trimming Tragedies,” Christina Hager, Aug. 22, 2013