Maui Business

Kihei Tree Trimmer Fined $10,000 in Fatality Investigation

November 17, 2011, 2:31 PM HST
* Updated November 17, 3:45 PM
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Photo courtesy of Hawaii Tourism Authority.

By Sonia Isotov

The Department of Labor and Industrial Relations’ (DLIR) Hawai‘i Occupational Safety and Health Division (HIOSH) has completed its investigation of the July 7, 2011 fatality that claimed the life of a 39-year-old Kihei tree trimmer.

The HIOSH investigation found that the flip line used to hold and position the tree trimmer was defective. The flip line was rusted and wrapped with duct tape and had apparently been previously damaged and not repaired in accordance with manufacturer’s requirements.

Mary’s Tree Service & Landscaping was found to have violated four HIOSH safety and health requirements for which penalties in the amount of $10,000 are being proposed. The employer will have an opportunity to contest the citations and/or penalties.

This fatality is one of three tree trimmer fatalities since January 2011, and one of five in the last two years. “In response to the significant increase in tree trimming fatalities, we’re planning a free safety workshop for tree trimming and landscape companies this coming February,” said DLIR Director Dwight Takamine.

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Citations issued to Mary’s Tree Service & Landscaping include:

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1.        Failure to ensure that supervisors understood their responsibility to ensure the safety and health of workers under their supervision;

2.        Failure to inspect safety equipment used by the employee;

3.        Failure to prohibit the use of defective or damaged safety equipment; and

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4.        Failure to provide adequate safety training for tree trimmers.

“Even one fatality is one too many. We urge all tree trimming and landscape companies to provide their employees with appropriate equipment and follow safe work practices while doing this very dangerous work,” said DLIR Director Dwight Takamine, in a written statement.

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