arborist Thomas-Soellner/iStock/Thinkstock

Complacency Rather Than Ignorance Likely Cause of Tree Care Incidents

The Tree Care Industry Association has released its report on tree care-related occupational incidents* for 2017.  The association reported that it had learned about 129 incidents. Seventy-two of them were fatal.

Comparing 2017 to previous years, TCIA reported 81, 92 and 92 occupational fatalities in 2014, 2015 and 2016 respectively.

The youngest victim recorded was 20, the oldest was 71. The average age of the victim (all incidents) was 43. This relatively high average age suggests that complacency rather than ignorance plays a significant role in these incidents. Supporting this claim:

  • The typical fall victim was unsecured
  • The typical struck-by victim remained in the drop zone
  • The typical electrocution victim violated MAD and made contact through a conductive tool/object.

For those accounts in which an employer was identified, 22 percent of all incidents occurred with TCIA member companies, and 78 percent occurred with non-members.

The "Big Three" types of accident causation are the same as they have been in recent years: Fall, struck-by and electrical contact incidents comprise 33, 33 and 17 percent of the total incidents, respectively.

*TCIA relies on media accounts of accidents for this data. Less "newsworthy" accidents are less likely to be recorded. We define an incident as "occupational" when it is clear from the account that the victim(s) was/were engaged in tree work for compensation.

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