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How to mitigate the risks of performing tree care

March 23, 2022 -  By
(Photo: Bartlett Tree Experts)

(Photo: Bartlett Tree Experts)

Safety should always be at the top of tree care professionals’ minds, according to Jim Dossett, regional safety manager for Bartlett Tree Experts.

“Understanding the environment that we work in,” he says. “We face so many hazards in this industry, and the level of exposure to those hazards is high. Just about everything we do can have a significantly higher level of risk.”

Dossett believes that pros in the industry do a good job of understanding the risk. He calls for those involved in handling those risks to take a methodical approach instead of the “gut instinct” they rely on.

Dossett’s methodical approach involves more people in the conversation about mitigating risk, bringing in different viewpoints and finding creative ways to produce meaningful outcomes in remaining safe.

In addition to the methodical approach, Dossett proposes multiple mechanisms to mitigate risk. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) — like eye protection, climbing helmets and chainsaw protective clothing — is an excellent place to start the process.

Dossett says hazard identification and reduction are other ways to mitigate risk, as is training.

Looking ahead

Tree care safety regulations from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) — more specifically, the ANSI Z133 safety standards — are the industry standards for workplace safety. Last updated in 2017, the Z133 safety standard is due for an update in 2023, meaning new regulations are on the way.

ANSI isn’t the only regulatory agency with eyes on the tree care industry. Dossett says the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has started to take an interest.

Recently, OSHA’s Region 1 launched a Regional Emphasis Program (REP).

OSHA Region 1 administrator Jeffrey Erskine said the REP aims to raise awareness and improve safety for workers in the tree care industry, citing the 31 worker deaths his office has investigated since 2016.

About the Author:

Rob DiFranco is Landscape Management's associate editor. A 2018 graduate of Kent State University, DiFranco holds a bachelor's degree in journalism. Prior to Landscape Management, DiFranco was a reporter for The Morning Journal in Lorain, Ohio.

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