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Cohen, Snyder, Eisenberg & Katzenberg, P.A. - Maryland Personal Injury Lawyers

Beware of working for fly-by-night tree trimming businesses

Researchers with the Tree Care Industry Association found that in 2017, tree care workers in Maryland were among the most injured in the nation.

While there are many reputable tree trimming businesses in Maryland, there are also some fly-by-night businesses that do not offer proper safety protections or the proper insurance. An injury while working for one of these companies means your ability to claim workers compensation benefits could be difficult.

Before you hire on with a tree trimming company, find out if they have workers compensation insurance. Be aware: if a prospective employer says you will be hired as an “independent contractor,” that’s a red flag that they are not carrying workers compensation insurance.

Maryland does offer a state tree care license for tree trimmers. Having one means the company has met standards of professionalism including education, working with a previously licensed professional and carrying liability and property damage insurance. The state offers a website to search tree trimming businesses to see if they are licensed.

Report statistics

The report found that fatalities among tree care workers nationally dropped about 16 percent. The association found about 130 incidents with 72 fatalities and 45 serious injuries in 2017.

Tree trimmers from California saw the most injuries or deaths with 14. Massachusetts and Maryland were tied for fourth with eight incidents apiece.

Most of the incidents involved:

  • Tree felling
  • Electric shock or burn via conductive tool or object
  • Equipment failure
  • Caught under a chipper or rigging
  • Fall from aerial lifts

No OSHA rules

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has no rules specifically for the tree-trimming industry. In 1995, OSHA provided safety standards for the logging industry but did not apply them to the tree trimming industry.

In 2008, OSHA published an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking, but removed the item from its agenda in 2010 citing insufficient resources, according to TCIA.

The issue of tree care standards was back on the agenda in 2015 but moved to “long-term action” in 2017, where it currently languishes.

Meanwhile, the Tree Care Industry Association’s Arborist Safety Training Institute offers safety training throughout the U.S. but attendance is not mandatory for either business owners or those who work as tree trimmers.

The ASTI offers workshops on aerial lift safety, how to work around electricity, how to correctly operate chippers and chain saws, and how to properly work on th

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