Safety and OSHA News

Worker killed by falling tree; OSHA fines company

OSHA has fined a tree surgery company following the death of an employee last summer in Idaho City, ID.

Davey Tree Surgery Co. faces $31,175 in OSHA fines resulting from an inspection following the fatality.

In June 2011, Davey Tree employee Robert Butterfield was killed when he was struck by a falling tree.

Idaho Power had hired Davey Tree to cut down trees near utility lines. A crew made a cut in one tree that didn’t bring it down. When they made another cut, the tree fell in a different direction, landing on Butterfield.

OSHA issued serious violations for failing to:

  • have adequate first-aid supplies
  • ensure workers maintain a safe distance from trees being felled
  • evaluate the work area before trying to cut down the tree
  • provide training for tool and equipment use, and
  • provide training for determining tree length.

Davey was also cited with an other-than-serious violation for failing to report the fatality to OSHA within eight hours.

This fatality was the company’s second in 2011. The first one occurred in Pennsylvania on Feb. 24 under similar circumstances and resulted in similar citations.

Davey Tree says it’s contesting the citations. Companies that contest the violations can reach a settlement with OSHA or take their cases to the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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