Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA) representatives attended a meeting with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration last week to discuss rulemaking focused on protecting workers who cut and trim trees.
While the current regulation (81 Fed. Reg. 38, 117) addresses logging, OSHA doesn’t have specific rules for most types of tree trimming and its associated hazards, such as falling branches, insect bites, broken equipment, and pesticide use.
Mark Garvin, president of TCIA, said many lawmakers were surprised that TCIA came to them seeking support for the tree care rule. In 2008, OSHA initiated a tree trimming rulemaking at the urging of TCIA, but the project was set aside in 2010 and revisited again in 2015.
Also present at the meeting was Peter Gerstenberger, TCIA’s senior advisor for safety, standards and compliance, who cited accident statistics compiled by TCIA while voicing support for OSHA’s pursuit of a rule. Representatives from Lewis Tree Service, Asplundh Tree Expert Co. and Carolina Tree Care — all TCIA members — also attended to provide firsthand accounts of safety issues tree care workers face on the jobsite.
According to William Perry, head of OSHA’s Directorate of Standards and Guidance, the agency hasn’t yet set a timeline for pursuing the rule. OSHA is still in an information-gathering phase and needs to determine if a tree care rule would trigger a Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act review.
While many attending the meeting might favor OSHA’s adoption of the voluntary American National Standards Institute consensus tree-trimming standard (ANSI Z133-2012), the agency can’t adopt the standard as is, Perry said.