- Author: Ben Faber
Pruning trees is dangerous. You think you know which way that branch is going to drop, and instead it falls right on your head. Good thing you are wearing a helmet, but a big limb is not going to be stopped by a helmet. A recent report out of Penn State developed some statistics on tree “felling' – pruning – which should be noted by anyone cutting trees. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ajim.23286 . Where it reads “logging and landscaping”, read avocado pruning. These statistics are just for deaths from trees, not injuries. I couldn't find on-farm statistics of pruning injuries, but, know that farming is one of those high risk activities like other tree-related interactions.
Tree felling — whether by professional loggers in a forest setting or by landscapers in urban and rural landscapes — is the most dangerous job in what are two of the most dangerous industries, according to Penn State researchers who conducted a new study of associated deaths.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration calls logging “the most dangerous occupation in the United States.” The fatal injury rate for loggers is more than 30 times the rate for all U.S. workers. Tree-care workers also encounter hazards at rates much higher than the average employee.
“This was the first research to look at commercial logging and landscaping services together,” said Judd Michael, Nationwide Insurance Professor of Agricultural Safety and Health and professor of agricultural and biological engineering, College of Agricultural Sciences. “It was a unique and more accurate way to assess fatalities. The commonality, of course, is that workers in both fields fell trees. They do it using very different methods, but either way, it is extremely hazardous work.”
Logging in Appalachia and other regions with forests growing on rough, mountainous terrain continues largely unmechanized, with workers felling trees with chainsaws, standing at their bases; landscapers, on the other hand — because they must control the fall of limbs and trunks — must climb trees with chainsaws and cut sections down.
To reach their conclusions, the researchers analyzed an Occupational Safety and Health Administration database to identify occupational tree-felling fatalities in the United States during a 10-year period — from 2010 through the first half of 2020. They compared data for the two industry segments of logging and landscaping services.
In findings recently published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, the researchers reported that there were 314 fatalities over the period. The victims were overwhelmingly male, with the median age being 43. “Struck-by” was the No. 1 event type causing fatalities, with the head being the most frequent body part involved in fatalities.
Falls from elevation was the only event type significantly different between the logging and landscaping industries, Michael noted, adding “but you would expect that, given the nature of the work.” Poor decision-making was listed as a key component of fatal incidents, and in some cases bystanders were fatally injured due to the actions of others.
The number of tree-felling fatalities varied greatly from year to year during the study, and there were no clear trends in fatality rates, Michael pointed out. The reasons for the cyclical rise and fall of tree-felling fatalities are unknown but he suspects they may be driven by weather events. One possible causal factor was whether hurricanes made landfall in the coastal states.
Storm damage may lead to increased fatalities, he explained. Years such as 2012, 2017 and 2018 with abnormally high damage costs from Atlantic storms also saw relatively high numbers of landscaping fatalities that could be associated with storm‐damaged urban trees, while 2014 and 2015 had very quiet hurricane seasons and relatively few fatalities.
“Look at what happened with Hurricane Ida recently, with all the power lines that were down because of downed trees in Louisiana,” he said. “We don't know yet if that will lead to landscape tree-feller deaths, but we suspect large storms lead to more fatalities. Utilities can't restore power without clearing downed trees, so the importance of keeping tree operations safe can't be overstated.”
Getting a better handle on fatality numbers is just an early step in trying to make the job of tree fellers safer, Michael explained. And it is not as simple as just advising that protective equipment should be worn.
“Personal protective equipment is mandated, but that means a hard hat or some chaps on a worker's legs to stop a saw from cutting through,” he said. “But if you have a 1,000-pound limb falling from 10 feet or 50 feet, no equipment is going to protect them. And that's one of our key takeaways — you can have all the protection you want, but it won't help you if you get hit by a tree trunk or large limb. That's why we need to have better decision-making to keep people out of danger.”
There is a need to focus on hazards associated with tree-felling activities so that proactive prevention strategies can be developed, Michael suggested.
“Employers in the landscaping industry should put extra emphasis on fall protection and prevention for those working in elevated positions,” he said. “Greater attention to falling object avoidance for persons working around a tree being felled could also prevent fatalities. Logging companies should strive to adopt mechanized methods for tree felling.”
But fatalities from tree felling are just a fraction of the number of severe injuries incurred while working around trees, Michael added. By focusing on the cause of fatalities, Penn State researchers hope that strategies can be developed to also reduce the number of injuries in these important industries.
More Information on safely working trees:
And KEEP those TOOLS SHARP: https://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=28916
- Author: Ben Faber
Spray Safe registration opens
Registration is now open for the sixth Ventura County Spray Safe event. This year's keynote speaker will be Brian Leahy, director of the California Department of Pesticide Regulation.
The event will be on Tuesday, March 20, in the Agriculture Building (Santa Cruz Hall) at the Ventura County Fairgrounds, 10 W. Harbor Blvd., Ventura.
7:30-8:30 a.m.: Registration
8:30-11:50 a.m.: Presentations
11:50 a.m.-12:45 p.m.: Lunch (provided)
12:45-1:30 p.m.: Speakers
Spray Safe is intended to prevent pesticide-exposure incidents and improve communication among growers, agricultural chemical applicators and farm employees. Originally developed by a coalition of farmers, pest control advisers, applicators and labor contractors concerned about drift incidents in Kern County, the program is being embraced by growers throughout California as a way of better protecting the health and safety of farmers, field crews and neighboring residents.
Since our inaugural Ventura County event in 2009, the program has grown steadily in popularity, more than 500 people attending each of the subsequent sessions. Attendees learn about pesticide safety, application technology, regulatory issues and other topics during a half-day program of guest speakers, demonstrations and breakout sessions. Simultaneous Spanish translation will be provided.
The event is free, but advance registration is required. To register, you must download the form here, fill it out, and fax it to (805) 987-3874, or email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline is Tuesday, March 6.
The Spray Safe planning committee could not make this event happen without the financial support of Ventura County's agricultural community. To offset the approximately $20,000 it costs to conduct each event, we rely on the generosity of farm owners, pesticide applicators and advisors, supplier representatives, and anyone concerned about the industry's future.
- Author: Lisa Blecker
Registration is now open for Spring 2018 Pesticide Safety Instructor Training workshops
UC IPM is partnering with AgSafe to offer up-to-date instructor training programs that are approved and partly funded by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR). Updates to the Federal Worker Protection Standard (WPS) that will have the most impact on California pesticide users include:
- Annual pesticide safety training for all fieldworkers
- Instructors in agriculture must attend an updated and approved Train-the-Trainer course, and
- Expanded training content for fieldworkers and pesticide handlers
Upcoming southern California training dates and locations:
February 21, 2018
This class will be conducted in ENGLISH
February 23, 2018
This class will be conducted in SPANISH
March 20, 2018
This class will be conducted in SPANISH
Participants who complete this training will become qualified to provide pesticide safety training to fieldworkers and pesticide handlers, as required by California state regulations and the revised Federal Worker Protection Standard (WPS). Visit the workshop website for specific date/location information and to register. Spring 2018 Pesticide Safety Instructor Workshops
Se Abrió la Registración para 2018 Capacitaciones de Instructores de Seguridad de Pesticidas
UC IPM en conjunto con AgSafe ofrece un programa actualizado de capacitación para instructores que es aprobado y co-patrocinado por el Departamento de Regulaciones de Pesticidas de California (DPR). Las actualizaciones en el Estándar de Protección del Trabajador (WPS) que tendrán más impacto sobre los que se usan pesticidas en California incluyen:
- Entrenamiento anual de seguridad de pesticidas para los trabajadores
- Instructores en agricultura deben asistir a un curso actualizado y aprobado (Entrenamiento de Entrenadores), y
- Contenido de capacitación ampliado para trabajadores de campo y manipuladores de pesticidas
Próximas fechas y localidades en el sur de California:
21 de febrero 2018
Esta clase será en INGLÉS
23 de febrero 2018
Esta clase será en ESPAÑOL
20 de marzo 2018
Esta clase será en ESPAÑOL
Los participantes en este programa serán calificados para entrenar a los trabajadores de campo y a los manipuladores de pesticidas, como es requerido por las regulaciones del estado de California, he incluso el Estándar de Protección del Trabajador revisado por EPA.
Visite el sitio web de capacitaciones para obtener información sobre fechas/localidades y para inscribirse. 2018 Capacitaciones de Instructores de Seguridad de Pesticidas
Thank you, Gracias,
Pesticide Safety Education Program Team
- Author: Stephanie Parreira
UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), poisoning is the number one cause of injury-related death in the United States, and 1073 people in California were poisoned by pesticides in 2014 alone. Each year since 1962, National Poison Prevention Week has taken place during the third week of March, to raise awareness about avoiding these tragedies. No one wants their workers or family members to experience illness or death from pesticide exposure, so the UC IPM Pesticide Safety Education Program (PSEP) would like to bring special attention to preventing pesticide poisoning this week. The program also published a new edition of The Safe and Effective Use of Pesticidesin 2016, which contains a wealth of pesticide safety and hazard prevention information for people who work with pesticides.
Both agricultural and household pesticides can poison people if they are not properly handled. In agriculture, poisoning most often results from pesticide mixing and loading, and the most harm occurs due to spills, splashes and equipment failure. In the home, many pesticide poisoning incidents involve children swallowing pesticides, including garden products, disinfectant cleaners, or other chemicals used to control pests.
One of the most important things you can do to prevent pesticide poisoning is to follow the instructions on the pesticide label. Labels address critical information about how to use a pesticide safely, including the kind of personal protective equipment (PPE) you should wear to prevent overexposure, how much of the product to apply, the minimum time you must wait to enter the area after applying the pesticide (the restricted entry interval), and the minimum time that must pass between application and harvest (preharvest interval).
Labels also include important signal words such as “Danger,” “Warning,” or “Caution” that indicate how acutely toxic the chemical is to humans, as well as directions to avoid pesticide contamination of sensitive areas such as schools and hospitals. These instructions are meant to protect anyone who is at risk of being exposed to hazardous pesticide residues. It is essential to thoroughly read and understand the pesticide label before working with the pesticide, and to carefully comply with label instructions throughout the process. The UC IPM guide to Understanding Pesticide Labels for Making Proper Applications can help you do this, and is available in both English and Spanish.
If you apply pesticides in or around your home, be sure to store them properly and keep them out of the reach of children. Keep in mind that even mothballs may look like candy to very young children. It is illegal and unsafe to store pesticides in food or drink containers, which can easily fool people into consuming them and being poisoned. According to the California Department of Pesticide Regulation, these mistakes caused 62 incidents of child poisoning from pesticide ingestion in California in 2014, and 47 of those cases involved children under six years of age.
To learn more about poisoning and how to prevent it, consider visiting the following resources:
- Author: Sarah Risorto and Lisa Blecker
We are in the midst of a new and changing era of Worker Protection Standards (WPS). The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) recently published the revised WPS, which is meant to increase protections for agricultural fieldworkers and pesticide handlers from pesticide exposure when they're working in farms, forests, nurseries and greenhouses. The changes are already affecting California agriculture!
What major regulatory changes have already gone into effect?
Several changes are required to have been in place as of January 2, 2017. These include:
- All 417,000 fieldworkers in California must attend annual pesticide safety training.
- Records of all fieldworker pesticide safety trainings must be kept on file for 2 years.
- Fields must be posted when the restricted entry interval (REI) exceeds 48 hours.
- “Application-exclusion zones” must be implemented to prevent the entry of anyone into areas up to 100 feet from pesticide application equipment.
- Instructors previously qualified via a DPR-approved Instructor Training programs (Train the Trainer) are qualified to train through 2017. If you wish to be qualified to train fieldworkers and handlers after December 31, 2017 using this qualification, you must complete an updated, DPR-approved Train the Trainer workshop.
Now is the time to make sure these changes are put in place!
What major regulatory changes are still in store for us? When will they happen?
The regulatory changes that must be in place by January 2, 2018 include:
- Additional training topics for fieldworkers and handlers have to be added to the curriculum.
- Handlers have to suspend an application if anyone enters the application exclusion zone.
Who do these changes affect?
Many people who work in the California agricultural community will be impacted by the WPS revisions. These include fieldworkers, pesticide handlers, farm labor contractors, private and in-house safety trainers, growers, farm managers, licensed pesticide applicators (private and commercial), pest control advisors (PCAs), and crop consultants, to name a few.
How do I know if I am qualified to train?
If you attended one of the DPR-approved Train-the-Trainer programs you are qualified through 2017. However, if you wish to continue training after the end of the year, you must complete a DPR-approved Instructor Training Program, which includes the 2018 training topic requirements.
If you maintain certain licenses/government designations, including PAC, QAC, QAL, PCA, and certain County Biologist licenses you are qualified to train. UCCE Advisors are also qualified to train.
How can I get qualified as a trainer?
To become a trainer, take an Instructor Training program that is approved by DPR for 2018 topics. The University of California Pesticide Safety Education Program (part of the UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program, UC IPM), in partnership with AgSafe, will offer multiple workshops this spring that cover the new federal requirements for fieldworker and handler training. You can reserve your spot now. At the end of the training you will be a certified pesticide safety instructor.
If I am currently qualified, how can I make sure I stay up to date on all the new requirements?
If you are currently qualified as a trainer because you maintain a California PAC, QAC, or QAL, or if you are a PCA, you can attend an Instructor Training Program this spring to learn about the new WPS requirements and additional training topics. While a certification may qualify you, an Instructor Training Program will prepare you to train! Register today!
UC IPM Pesticide Safety Education Program