The Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA) reviewed 158 occupational tree care accidents reported by the media in 2013. Of these accidents, 79 were fatal. These findings are very similar to the 2012 findings, where TCIA recorded 84 fatal accidents. However, the number of non-fatal accidents increased dramatically to 79 from the 44 reported during the 2012 calendar year. These sobering numbers are a stark reminder of the dangers of tree care, and highlight the need for tree care companies, along with homeowners and the property managers who hire them to uphold the highest standards for worker safety.
An analysis of the fatal accidents categories revealed the following insights:
- 14 fatalities were attributed to falls from trees due to failure of the tree or climbing system, or an error made in cutting and climbing.
- 12 fatalities were attributed to electrocution through conductive tools or equipment, direct contact with conductors, or an undetermined manner.
- There was insufficient detail in the accounts of the 12 struck-by-tree fatalities to allow any further analysis. Similarly, the 13 struck-by-tree-limb fatalities lacked enough detail for further analysis.
- Nine fatalities were attributed to falls from aerial lifts due to being improperly secured, ejected, boom failure, or falling limb damaging the boom.
"Unfortunately for the industry overall, serious accidents seem to be increasing," said Peter Gerstenberger, senior advisor for Safety, Standards & Compliance for TCIA. "We need to transform the industry and create a safety culture that will keep all tree workers safe in an inherently hazardous occupation."
TCIA compiled the data using Google alerts, OSHA investigations, and reports from colleagues in the industry. TCIA found that only 12.7% of the recorded accidents can be attributed to TCIA member companies. Non TCIA member companies are responsible for 72.2% of the recorded accidents. The remaining 15.2% accidents lack attribution due to insufficient data.