Boca News Now reported that fire and rescue crews recently responded to a construction accident involving a tree chipping machine. On arrival, they found a man with an upper extremity caught in the machine. The worker suffered injuries requiring him to be taken to a local trauma center.
Unfortunately, stories like this happen frequently in the Boca Raton and West Palm Beach area because landscaping work can be so dangerous. In fact, according to OSHA, 39 employees were killed in chipper accidents from 1996-2005 and unmentioned number of employees were injured by wood chippers.
There are quite a variety of jobs that fall under the category of landscaping and horticultural services. It can include jobs such as:
- landscape design and architecture;
- soil preparation and grading;
- irrigation systems;
- tree, shrub, and lawn planting;
- hardscape construction (including retaining walls, pathways and patios);
- lawn care and landscape maintenance; and
- arborist services (including tree trimming and line clearance).
Landscaping jobs can also fall within the nature of construction or general maintenance work, depending on the nature of a particular employer’s business activities.
One thing the various landscaping jobs have in common is that they often involve the use of dangerous equipment. This equipment can include machines and power tools like mowers, trimmers, edgers, chainsaws, and wood chippers. It also may involve the use of sharp or bladed hand tools like shovels, pruners, rakes, and trowels.
OSHA rules govern the landscape and horticultural workers and their employers. The agency sets standards outlining the hazards of operating certain potentially dangerous landscaping equipment, including chippers, which pose a danger to workers who may get clothing, gloves or body parts entangled in the machine’s feeder mechanism and hurt by the machine’s cutting knives, which generally rotate at speeds from 1,000 to 2,000 revolutions per minute.
OSHA Requires Training of Workers in Language They Understand
OSHA regulations specifically require that employees be trained on how to safely use hazardous equipment in order to protect the employee and other co-workers. If an employee does not speak English or has limited English skills, OSHA also requires that employer provide equipment training in a language and vocabulary that worker can understand.
Training of non-English-speaking employees is especially important when it comes to safety issues. According to one safety industry expert, “Don’t shortcut training or provide non-English speaking workers with bare-minimum instruction on what needs to be done. Most jobs require some level of decision making. If workers don’t have all of the information, their ability to make correct decisions decreases and the likelihood of accidents increases.”
Workers’ Compensation Help For Landscaping Workers
Almost all Florida workers are covered by the state’s workers’ compensation laws. Although there are some exceptions, generally Florida employers who have four or more employees are required to have workers’ compensation insurance for their employees.
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Florida workers’ compensation is also a “no-fault” system, which means that it does not matter who caused the injury. However, a worker must report a workplace injury to the employer within 30 days of the incident that caused the injury or accident. A worker has two years to file a workers’ compensation claim after the initial injury report is filed.
You may need to hire a workers’ compensation lawyer if:
– You cannot return to work because of your injuries;
– Your employer refuses to pay workers’ compensation benefits that you are deserve;
– You are told to return to work before you are medically able;
– Your employer sends you to a doctor who says you can return to work only in a special job; or
– You are denied permanent disability even though you have a significant disability.
If you are an injured landscape worker and you need help with your workers’ compensation claim, talk to one of the experienced West Palm Beach, Orlando, and Boca Raton Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Sternberg / Forsythe, P.A. at 561-687-5660.