A tree trimmer suffered lethal on-the-job injuries after he was struck by falling branches while working in Laguna Hills. According to a news report in The Orange County Register, the fatal accident occurred on the afternoon of June 4 in the 25400 block of Barents. A resident spotted a man who appeared to be injured in a tree and called Orange County fire officials. Responding paramedics found the tree trimmer hanging unconscious from a harness while trapped by heavy branches in a eucalyptus tree.
Officials said the tree trimmer appeared to have been seriously injured when at least one large branch fell on his head or neck. He may have died before an ambulance could arrive. A crane was needed to remove the branches that trapped the man. Firefighters brought him down from the tree. The man did not appear to be a city employee, but officials said he might have been working for a private company or himself. An investigation is ongoing.
We offer our deepest condolences to the family members of this deceased worker. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.
Tree Trimming Deaths
According to statistics from the Tree Care Industry Association, about 580 people died in tree trimming accidents from 2009 through 2015. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that grounds maintenance workers – including tree trimmers – have a fatality rate that is more than three times that of the average worker in the United States. Yet, there are no federal standards for tree trimming, pruning, and removal. The International Society of Arboriculture promotes voluntary standards, but not all contractors adopt those guidelines.
Tree trimmers who are injured on the job can seek workers’ compensation benefits from their employers, which typically cover medical expenses and a portion of the lost wages. Families of deceased victims may be eligible to receive death benefits if the worker was killed on the job. However, in California, these benefits are woefully inadequate when it comes to compensating severely injured workers or families that have lost loved ones in work-related accidents.
In addition to workers’ compensation, injured victims and their families may be able to file a third-party claim against a party other than an employer. This might include a negligent property owner who failed to keep the premises safe, or the manufacturer of a defective product that caused or contributed to the worker’s injuries. An experienced Orange County personal injury lawyer will be able to guide workers and families through their legal rights and options.