Archive for the ‘Industry Articles’ Category

Ask an Arborist: Travis Vickerson

Recently at Cranes101, we were fortunate to have arboriculture extraordinaire Travis Vickerson come by to give trainings and work on upcoming classes here on site. While he’s been with us, he was generous enough to answer a few questions to share with all of you.

Here’s a little bio on Travis:  

“ISA Certified Arborist, TCIA CTSP, TCIA Crew Leader Qualified, 17 years of arboriculture experience, Technical Rope Rescue Technician for 12 years and FEMA qualified Heavy Equipment Rigging Specialist (Cranes) for 10 years.  With a background in adult education methodology and training the adult learner, he has combined passion for safety with his ability to teach and instruct. After losing a friend to a climbing accident years ago, he has worked diligently to promote safety through education and training. In his spare time he enjoys traveling and can always be found to have a classic book tucked away in his bag. Enjoys learning all he can from everyone he meets and a huge fan of great food and bourbon.”



  1. If I am a small tree company and I am looking at getting into crane removals, what are some things to take into consideration that would justify the purchase of a crane?


First, they should be looking to rent one and work with that first, then slowly look at purchasing a machine that will fit their geographic service area, weight of logs and material and price point. I personally feel something like the Altec machine or National 45-142 is a great tree boom truck.


  1. Following up to that last question, I’ll have to make sure I have the right people on my crew to use the crane. What kind of qualifications should I be looking for if I need to hire?


The problem here that almost zero employees come to companies with credentials of any kind. What the employer should be doing is getting them basic OTJ training first in safety and safety operations, then get them TCIA tree care academy manuals in this order (chipper operator, chainsaw, ground ops specialist, tree climber(if they are gonna climb) then lastly tree care specialist). A TCIA crane operations specialist is best for any company that owns a crane or works with one on a regular basis. Also an employee needs EHAP, Aerial Rescue and First aid/cpr.


  1. What licensing is required by OSHA for crane work within the tree care industry?


None as long as you’re only lifting organic material, the problem comes in lifting other items such as stump grinders. Once you hook up a stump grinder or even a fake tree for a town Christmas tree you now fall under the ASME and OSHA regulations.


  1. Tree Care companies with cranes are exempt form the standard if they are only moving organic material. What are your thoughts? Should more standards be developed?


There should be a required operator’s license if you are using a crane period!

Licensing isn’t just about being qualified it shows a knowledge level to help prevent incidents. Far too often companies purchase cranes to do tree work and miss the formal knowledge and training aspect and end up having incidents over simple things that training and licensing can teach.

When looking at crane use in arboriculture, what is it that makes this work so dangerous?

Tree care companies are used to working with gravity in lowering tree pieces and even using momentum to make trees do what they need them to, with cranes your working against gravity and want no momentum in your picks. So it’s dangerous because of that shift in how work is done.


  1. 6. Why is crane use in arboriculture unique from every other industry a crane is used?


It’s unique but we are dealing with “live loads” meaning it’s estimated weighs and once attached the crane owns it, it can’t be reattached and reconfigured for another chance at lifting it or rigging it.


  1. How do you feel cranes have impacted the tree care industry over the past few years?


Increased efficiency but also increased frequency of incidents


  1. Do you feel that crane operators in the industry are adequately trained?


No, very few have any formal training; most are learning as they go.


  1. What is the best platform for training  within the tree care industry?


Workshops to get exposure and then hands-on training.


  1. What type of training is currently available for those in the industry for bucket training?


TCIA has an aerial lift specialist but it is only a 4 hr class


  1. Are there slings  and sling uses that are unique to this industry? If so can you elaborate on a few?


There is only one specific tree industry sling and that is the Mark Chisholm crane kit slings. They are dead eye slings made of endura braid dipped for a coating


  1. Where can a company go to get training on special slinging practices that you mentioned earlier?


TCIA best management practices manual.


  1. Tell me a little bit about your upcoming webinar. Who do you think should really tune in? What will participants come away with?


The upcoming webinar is going to be a basic intro to cranes, outrigger support, proper climber attachment and pros and cons of different slings. I think it’s a good webinar for anyone that uses a crane without formal training in the tree care industry.


Travis’s webinar will be hosted on August 28th, 2018, streaming live from Durham, NC! The time is TBA, so stay tuned. We’ll keep you posted.


If you have an arboricultural question you’d like to ask Travis, leave a comment below and maybe we can feature it on a future post!


As always, if you’d like a Cranes101 consultation regarding your arborist or crane crew training needs or simply more information about our services, give us a call at 508-966-4100.


A Year of Injuries, and Lessons


This article was posted on the U.S. Department of Labor Blog

Filed in Español, Safety By Dr. David Michaels on March 17, 2016

In January 2015, we started requiring employers to report any work-related severe injury – such as an amputation or an injury requiring hospitalization – within 24 hours. In the first year, we received 10,388 reports, or nearly 30 a day.

Each report told the story of a man or woman who went to work one day and experienced a traumatic event, sometimes with permanent consequences to themselves and their families. But the reports also created opportunities for OSHA to engage with employers in ways we had never done before, and to ensure that changes were made to prevent similar incidents from happening to others.


We learned things that surprised us, encouraged us and sometimes disappointed us. Today, we published a report of our evaluation that features stories from our offices around the country and reflects on lessons learned in the first year.

Our two main goals for the new reporting requirement were to engage more employers in identifying and eliminating serious hazards themselves, and to allow us to better target our enforcement and compliance assistance efforts to places where workers are most at risk. After reviewing the field reports and associated data, we are confident that both goals are being met.

A few examples explain how:

  • In Chicago, a conveyor loaded with liquid chocolate suddenly started up as a worker was cleaning a roller. Her arm was pulled in and mangled so badly that she required a plate and skin grafting. To prevent future injuries, the employer installed metal guards to shield workers’ arms and hands from moving machinery as well as warning alarms and flashing lights that are activated 20 seconds before the conveyor moves.
  • In Idaho, a valve cover (long known to be problematic) snapped shut on the hand of a truck driver who was loading a tanker, severing his fingertip. After the amputation, the employer devised a new hands-free tool for closing the valve, and alerted the manufacturer and other employers likely to use the same equipment.
  • At a sawmill, a chipper operator’s arm was amputated after he tried to clear a conveyor jam. In response, the owner suspended operations for a week and made improvements that went far beyond what OSHA required, including installing electrical shut-offs within easy reach of all workers, placing catwalks around the entire mill, and providing handheld radios for all employees.

In these cases and many more, employers worked closely with OSHA specialists to protect the safety and health of their workers. In fact, we responded to more than half of all injury reports  not by sending inspectors to the scene but by asking employers to conduct their own incident investigations and propose remedies to prevent future injuries.

At other times, the reported hazards warranted a worksite inspection, and we were able to investigate the incident and determine whether hazards remained.

But we were also disappointed by a handful of employers who went to great lengths to conceal injuries or hazards. In one stunning example, a manufacturer tried to hide an entire production line from OSHA inspectors after a staffing agency reported the amputation of a worker’s finger. Inspectors who uncovered the back room found a row of machinery with exposed parts that could have caused other workers to lose their fingers.

While we have made progress toward ensuring that severe injuries are quickly reported, we believe a sizable proportion of these types of injuries are still not being reported. That’s why we’re developing outreach strategies, including working through insurers, first responders, and business organizations to ensure that all employers know of their obligations to report severe injuries. Those who choose not to report should know that, now that the requirement is in its second year, OSHA is more likely to cite for non-reporting, and we have increased the maximum penalty for not reporting a severe injury from $2,000 to $7,000.

We will continue to evaluate the program and make changes to improve its effectiveness. To help protect the safety and health of the nation’s workers, it is essential that employers report all severe injuries, either by phone or online. Learn more at

Dr. David Michaels is the assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health.

Behr Iron & Steel Inc. Pleads Guilty to OSHA Violation Causing Death of Employee

A Rockford-based company pleaded guilty today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Iain D. Johnston to willfully violating Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations, resulting in the death of an employee at the company’s facility in South Beloit, Ill.

BEHR IRON & STEEL INC., a high volume ferrous and nonferrous scrap processor, admitted in a plea agreement that on March 10, 2014, the company failed to provide lockout/tagout protection and confined space protection as required under OSHA regulations for the company’s employees who were cleaning a shredder discharge pit.  The company admitted that those violations caused the death of an employee who got caught in a moving, unguarded conveyor belt.

The Company faces a maximum sentence of 5 years’ probation, a maximum fine of $500,000, and restitution to the victim employee in an amount determined by the Court.  Sentencing is scheduled for July 12, 2016, at 1:30 p.m.

The guilty plea was announced by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and Ken Nishiyama Atha, Regional Administrator of OSHA in Chicago.

“Justice cannot restore life to the victim whose body was crushed because Behr Iron and Steel failed to provide protection from dangerous machinery on the job,” said Mr. Atha.  “Safety training at the plant was woefully insufficient.  Behr must be held responsible by the courts for ignoring safety standards and failing in its obligation to protect its workers on the job.”

Behr’s South Beloit facility recycles metals contained in such things as automobiles and refrigerators.  According to the plea agreement, OSHA regulations require employers to adopt safety procedures to ensure that dangerous machines are properly shut off and unable to start up again prior to the completion of maintenance or servicing work.  The safety procedures include placing a lock on the power source of the machine and a tag on the lock warning that the machine cannot be operated until the warning is removed, and identifying the employee who has the key to the lock.  OSHA also promulgated regulations that address the need to protect employees from entering a confined space without safety precautions.

Metals shredded through a shredding machine in Behr’s South Beloit facility fall onto a conveyor belt located about ten feet underground in a shredder discharge pit, which was approximately six feet long and six feet wide.  The shredded materials were then moved by a conveyor belt out of the discharge pit and through a sorting process.  Some of the shredded metals fall onto the ground of the discharge pit near the conveyor belt.  One or two Behr employees working on the shredding machine were required to clean the discharge pit on a daily basis.  The employees shoveled shredded materials from the floor of the discharge pit onto the running conveyor belt.

On March 10, 2014, a Behr employee was cleaning the discharge pit when the employee’s arm was caught by the unguarded conveyor belt.  The employee was pulled into the machinery and killed.

Behr admitted that there was no lock or operable emergency shut off switch in the discharge pit for the conveyor belt, and the conveyor belt did not have guards designed to protect employees.  Behr also admitted that employees in the discharge pit were not adequately trained to use the shredder or the conveyor belt, and that the company had not developed and implemented confined space protection for employees entering the discharge pit.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott R. Paccagnini.

Man Injured in TriBeCa Crane Collapse Plans To Sue City for $30M

A 73-year-old man who suffered spinal and skull fractures after a 565-foot crane in TriBeCa crashed down on him while he sat in his parked car last month is planning to sue the city for $30 million, claiming the city was negligent and reckless.

Thomas O’Brien filed a notice of claim against the city Friday — the first step in eventually suing the city — saying the city is responsible for the massive Feb. 5 collapse on Worth Street that left one man dead because of its “negligence, recklessness and carelessness” in overseeing the safety of the giant crawler crane.

“[The City] knew perfectly well that there were very high winds in the forecast,” said O’Brien’s lawyer Jonathan Damashek. “They knew this was a potentially dangerous crane and they should have taken down that crane early, and fully closed down the street.”

According to city officials, construction workers were trying to lower the Bay Crane Company crawler crane and secure it as 25 mph winds gusted through the area about 8:24 a.m., when it toppled over, sending its 565-foot-long arm smashing onto Worth Street stretching from West Broadway to Church Street.

tribeca crane collapse

Department of Buildings officials had been at the site the day before the accident,officials said, and approved the work being done at 60 Hudson St. The crane had been extended to replace air conditioners and generators on the roof of the building, the former Western Union headquarters.

In the immediate aftermath of the collapse, Mayor de Blasio issued emergency  crane regulations in the city, calling for cranes to be secured when winds were forecast to consistently exceed 20 mph or when gusts were predicted to exceed 30 mph, while a special task force studied best practices for crane operations.

But less than two months after the change, the task force recommended relaxing the restrictions, allowing for cranes to once again operate at 30 mph winds — the city’s original limit — in what critics reportedly saw as a bow to pressure from construction companies.

The group also recommended that cranes unsafe to operate at 30 mph should not be allowed to be used at all.

In the notice of claim, first reported by the New York Daily News, O’Brien, who lives in Massachusetts, says he suffered spinal cord injuries and skull fractures when the crane crushed his car.

The enormous collapse killed 38-year-old Upper West Side man David Wichs and injured several others.

O’Brien’s lawyer said his client is still being evaluated for brain injuries and he may need surgery for his two spinal fractures.

Damashek said they also plan on suing the crane owner, its operator and the owner of 60 Hudson St.

A spokesman for the city law department said the city is reviewing the claim.

A DOB spokesman told DNAinfo New York in a statement that “the cause of the crane collapse on Worth Street remains under active investigation.”

The spokesman added that even though the city has “the most robust crane and construction regulations and inspection requirements in the country,” a task force investigating the accidents is slated to “propose additional best practices and regulations where necessary.”



Labor Department Sues Employer for Firing Whistleblower

The Department of Labor is suing a company that allegedly fired a worker for reporting health and safety concerns.


whistle blower

The U.S. Department of Labor filed a lawsuit in federal court against a Niagara Falls-based contractor that allegedly fired an employee who reported health and safety concerns.

The suit, which was filed Feb. 19 with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York, alleges that Regional Environmental Demolition Inc. and its officials – Charles Van Epps and Enrico Liberale – fired a laborer who had expressed concerns about safety after OSHA contacted the employer about an anonymous complaint.

The demolition and asbestos abatement laborer had been working on an asbestos abatement project in Buffalo and noticed “soft spots” – deteriorated sections of floor. During the time he worked on the project (from April to June 2014), he reported on multiple occasions his concerns about the safety hazard to officials at the company.

The worker then was fired in June 2014 after OSHA contacted the company in response to an anonymous complaint it had received. The worker subsequently filed a whistleblower complaint to OSHA, which found merit in the claim.

“The Occupational Safety and Health Act gives us the authority to sue employers who retaliate against employees in safety and health matters. We will do so when the case warrants, as it does here,” said Jeffrey Rogoff, the regional solicitor of labor in New York.

In its lawsuit, the Department of Labor is looking for payment of lost wages and compensatory damages, interest, front pay, emotional and financial distress damages and punitive damages to the worker; and for the matter to be erased from his personnel record.

“Regional Environmental Demolition had no reason and no right to fire this worker for repeatedly reporting a safety hazard that could have seriously harmed him and his fellow workers. Firing or retaliating against workers who raise safety concerns is intimidation, plain and simple. If employees fear losing their jobs, hazards can go unreported and injuries can result,” said Robert Kulick, OSHA’s regional administrator in New York.

The lawsuit also calls for the court to make Regional Environmental Demolition post a notice to employees announcing that they will not discriminate against workers who raise health and safety concerns.