Worker safely trimming palm fronds

CA/FACE's digital story helps workers learn safer tree trimming practices through photos, news footage, worker accounts, and investigation findings.

300K training video views, teaching tree trimmers safe practices

The California Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (CA/FACE) program, led by the California Occupational Health Surveillance and Evaluation Program (OHSEP), investigates work-related deaths to identify the causes and prevent similar incidents and fatalities.

In 2013, CA/FACES investigated the deaths of three workers who died while trimming palm trees in Southern California. Tree trimming and pruning is a dangerous occupation, and palm trees have unique risks. Inadequate or improper climbing techniques and equipment can cause fatal suffocation, falls, and electrocution.

The program developed a digital story using photos, news footage, worker accounts, and investigation findings to tell the tragic story of Roberto, a 35-year old tree trimmer, who died of suffocation when the palm fronds he was cutting fell on him. This video is best used as an educational trigger that can kick off a worker training session and facilitate discussion.

The digital story highlighted key recommendations to prevent this from happening again, including:

  • Only workers who are certified by organizations such as the Tree Care Industry Association or the International Society of Arboriculture should perform or supervise palm tree trimming
  • Fronds should be removed by workers using an aerial device and wearing fall protection, or workers should use tree climbing procedures that place them above the fronds
  • Homeowners should hire tree trimming companies that have a current tree service contractor’s license

The videos (in English and Spanish) have received 300,000 YouTube views and continue to be promoted to employers, workers, trade associations, health and safety professionals, and homeowners. Nationally, the videos have been praised as a valuable training tool, and a powerful personal story that has raised awareness of palm tree trimming hazards and proper climbing techniques.

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