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New York Tree-Trimming Means Serious Risks and Frequent Worker Injury

After the intense snowstorm in the Lower Hudson Valley this October, we've seen hordes of tree trimmers out removing trees and branches damaged in the storm. The heavy work season for tree trimmers has also brought to light a disturbing fact: tree trimming is one of the most dangerous professions in the US, and the industry is poorly regulated.

Several tree-trimming worksite accidents have taken place recently, including a 45-foot fall in Eastchester and 2 workers injured while trimming trees in Westchester. The Occupational Health & Safety Department (OSHA) will be investigating these individual accidents and looking for any safety violations, but some people say the problem is systemic. Steve DiRocco, who owns West Nyack-based Timberline Tree & Landscape Inc., says that tree trimming requires more training and education than people might realize. He goes on to lament that "Our industry is not regulated that well. You have many companies that will sell you a cheap price, but they're not professional."

In fact, 2,070 tree-trimming injuries were reported in 2009 alone, and the Tarrytown OSHA office reports it sees around 10 tree-trimming inspections each year. They say the most commonly cited safety violations include proximity to power lines, little or no training, and problems with safety equipment. Electrocution and falls are also common.

Although New York does have policies in place to oversee tree trimmers, we do not yet have any certification or licensing requirements. The Tree Care Industry Association has recently launched a national safety campaign, called "Until We're All Safe." The program aims to promote safety and better training, especially related to working near electrical hazards.

The Westchester worker's compensation lawyers with Markhoff & Mittman, PC also encourage safety in this dangerous industry, and we hope the workers injured in this recent series of tree-trimming accidents recover quickly.

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