New! OSHA REP Directive for New England Tree and Landscaping Companies

arborist lifted by crane

Tree care and landscaping companies in New England, please take note, especially those using cranes to do treework. On August 4, 2021, OSHA came out with their first-ever Regional Emphasis Program (REP) directive for New England. You can read the entire directive from OSHA here.

How does this affect people in the Tree Industry?

OSHA is on a “campaign” so to speak, to reduce workplace hazards, injuries, and fatalities. So agents will be out in the field, stopping every time they see tree operations where cranes and aerial lifts are being utilized to conduct a full operational inspection. This targeted effort will be in effect for the next 5 years.

What will happen during an inspection?

“CSHOs shall determine if the operator is qualified to operate the equipment,” which means the operator should have a valid Nationally Accredited Crane Operator’s License (if not the state’s license, such as is required in MA, RI, and CT). Per OSHA 29CFR 1926.1427, employers must ensure their employees are certified or licensed as well as being documented as qualified.

Next, they will be checking to see if “the cranes have a periodic inspection (written documentation required).” All cranes must have documented (paper or electronic) inspection records available.

They will be checking to see if “load charts are available, weight charts or other method to determine the weight of materials being lifted are available”. Load charts according to OSHA’s standards “shall be conspicuously posted…;” and “…securely fixed”.

Then they will check to see “whether the ground conditions are capable of supporting the crane and the load where it is set up.”

“In addition, the CSHO shall determine if any employees are being hoisted by a crane. Although ANSI Z133-2017 5.7.11 allows the hoisting of a qualified arborist, the ANSI standard prohibits hoisting an individual on the crane load or hook unless the employer has determined that all reasonably possible alternative methods are inaccessible and attachment to the tree would create a greater hazard.” What this means in practice is that if you are lifting personnel with a crane into a tree, be sure you have your reasoning and evidence documented in writing.

This Regional Emphasis Program will be in effect for 5 years, until August 4, 2026. Make sure your crane operators are licensed and your cranes are inspected, so that you are well prepared should OSHA stop by your job-site.

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