Cal/OSHA Cites Tree Trimming Company Following Brush Chipper Fatality

American Canyon—Cal/OSHA has cited Gorilla Tree Service $23,200 for serious and accident-related workplace safety violations following an investigation of a brush chipper accident that killed a 24-year-old worker in Napa.

On August 15, 2017, the employee was working on the ground as part of a two-person crew removing limbs from a liquidambar tree when a rope used to lower limbs from an aerial bucket was caught and pulled into the chipper, strangling him.

Cal/OSHA’s investigation found that Gorilla Tree Service was unable to certify it had properly trained the worker, who had been employed at the company for about six months.

The Agency also found that the tree service failed to:

  • Provide documented training records for workers to certify that they had completed the required tree work and CPR training;
  • Brief workers before starting the job, including a description of hazards, work procedures and appropriate protective equipment;
  • Ensure the chipper was equipped, maintained and operated in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations. Cal/OSHA found the chipper’s moving parts of belt and pulley drives were not guarded as required; and
  • Prevent entanglement hazards and unwanted material from entering the point of operation on the chipper.

Tree workers are 56 times more likely to suffer a fatal occupational injury than workers in all industries combined.

The major causes of tree worker injuries and fatalities include falls, electrical shock, being struck by a tree branch, chainsaw lacerations, palm tree skirt collapses and ladder accidents.

Cal/OSHA launched a tree work safety campaign in 2016 to help employees and employers prevent accidents, and made available a Tree Work Safety webpage, Tree Work Safety Guide, fact sheet and checklist.