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Report shows increase in tree-care-related occupational fatalities in 2016

TCIA learned of 153 tree care-related occupational incidents* in calendar year 2016. Ninety-two of them were fatal. This report provides what TCIA knows about these incidents from the media accounts.

Comparing 2016 with previous years, TCIA reported 79, 81 and 87 occupational fatalities in 2013, 2014 and 2015 respectively.

The youngest victim recorded was 18, the oldest was 70. The median age of the victim (all incidents) was 39. This relatively high median age suggests that complacency rather than ignorance plays a significant role in these incidents. Supporting this claim:

  • The typical fall victim was unsecured
  • The typical struck-by victim remained in the drop zone
  • The typical electrocution victim violated MAD and made contact through a conductive tool/object.

For those accounts in which an employer was identified, 23 percent of all incidents occurred with TCIA member companies, and 77 percent occurred with non-members.

The “Big Three” types of accident causation are the same as they have been in recent years: Fall, struck-by and electrical contact incidents comprise 31, 25 and 22 percent of the total incidents, respectively.

The consistently high number of incidents in tree care over the past few years has attracted OSHA’s attention. At the time this report was published, at least 19 states in five OSHA regions were running “special emphasis” programs targeted at tree care and landscape firms.

* TCIA relies on media accounts of accidents for this data. Less “newsworthy” accidents are less likely to be recorded. TCIA defines an incident as “occupational” when it is clear from the account that the victim(s) was/were engaged in tree work for compensation.

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