New Rules on Vertical Standards: Are They Beneficial to the Tree Care Industry?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a new memorandum concerning the tree care industry. Affected parties expressed their concerns about the workability of such new standards.


Alpharetta, GA -- (SBWire) -- 05/12/2014 --The Vertical Standards rule which applies to electric power generation, transmission, and distribution maintenance activities to line clearance tree trimming was issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration on April 1 and was published in the Federal Register on April 11, will take effect 90 days from the mentioned date.

What is the Vertical Standard rule and what is its purpose?

A Vertical Standard Rule of OSHA are the “particular” standards which apply to the construction, maritime, and agriculture industry. The rules of OSHA aims to hammer out certain agreements serving as the basis for proposed rules with the intention of shortening the process in rulemaking and discourage legal challenges to the final standard while at the same time providing the public the capability to make comments on certain public issues.

The Tree Care Industry Association, being one of the several stakeholders who attended the special briefing on the new rule had a glimpse on the two revisions made by OSHA affecting line clearance contractors. The two areas which were part of the new rulings for the Vertical Standards are the use of chain saw and the fall protection in an aerial lift.

New Rule on Chain Saw Use

Old regulation allows drop starting saw weighing 15 pounds or more outside the container with a clear area below. The new rule of OSHA bans drop starting a chain saw from an aerial lift bucket. This new rule complies with the Logging Standards which prohibits drop starting. But the unclear line in OSHA’s new rules is that it does not seek to apply the Logging Standards to tree trimming and sectional tree removal activities.

New Rule on Fall Protection

OSHA made a final rule that is compliant with its 1926 Subpart M requirements which obliges contractors to use a body belt in a “work restraint” system preventing any fall, or to use a full body harness and lanyard that restricts “free fall” to six feet or less and is fixed to prevent contact with any lower level.

Peter Gerstenberger, Senior Advisor for Safety, Compliance, and Standards for the Tree Care Industry Association argued for a fall protection system and stated that the line clearance tree trimmer in a bucket spent a lot of their time working directly over the conductors. According to him, “one of the significant hazards they faced was falling into the conductors should they come out of the bucket”. TCIA opted to use a body belt and a short lanyard limiting the fall distance out of the bucket.

Businesses and organizations affected by the new rules of the Vertical Standards are allowed to file a Petition for Review in the US Court of Appeals 60 days from the rule’s publication. TCIA is looking forward to having OSHA further expound on the interpretation of their standards and hopefully would make the enforcement more workable for the affected parties.

About 72 Tree, Seed and Land Co.
72 Tree, Seed, & Land Co. LLC in Atlanta is a highly experienced and certified Arboriculture Consulting and Tree Care Firm dedicated to the Preservation and Restoration of Ecosystems. They are storm damage experts capable of handling the largest and most dangerous trees 24 hours a day. Being insurance specialists, they help their clients with handling the claims. They are a highly professional organization with the knowledge, experience, and dedication to get even the largest job done right the first time. Their specialties include arboriculture consultation, tree care services, crane services, emergency services, management services, and construction and storm water services. Safety is their topmost priority. All 72 Tree, Seed, & Land Co. jobs are supervised by veteran arboriculture professionals who emphasize safety and quality to the last detail which greatly enhances the aesthetics and ecology of the project. They also provide large tree transplanting and or planting services with highly experienced transplanting experts. They have Certified ISA (International Society of Arboriculture) arborists on staff.

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