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Cal/OSHA Standards Board Amends Tree Work Rules

Effective October 25, 2012 revised rules will go into effect regarding "Tree Work Maintenance or Removal" in Title 8, Division 1, Chapter 4, Subchapter 7, Article 12, Sections 3420 - 3428 of the General Industry Safety Orders. The Board also revised provisions of the High Voltage Electrical Safety Orders §2950 to include the minimum distances when tree trimming activities are performed.


The revised tree work rules emphasis additional training, equipment and work practice requirements.

Here is an overview of some of the revised rules:

GISO Article 12. Tree Work, Maintenance or Removal

Section 3420. Scope and Definitions.

The amended rules adds a significant number of new definitions for Article 12.

Section 3421. General.

Amendments will require additional training in the safe use of equipment, including, safety equipment and personal protective equipment; specifies training and instruction in operations that include pesticide and fertilizer applications for employers whose employees are exposed to, or engage in such operations; training in the recognition and avoidance of electrical hazards; and more detailed training and instruction requirements provided in Section 3423 for tree work performed in proximity to energized power lines and conductors.

New job briefing requirement shall include the description of the hazards unique to the work assignment, the appropriate work procedures to be followed, and the appropriate personal protective equipment needed. Also, additional job briefings are required when significant changes occur in the course of work which might affect the safety of employees.

Inspections now must be performed by a "qualified tree worker" which is a defined term in Article 12.

Aerial rescue training is now required for employees that may be required to perform such rescues.

For field work involving two or more persons at a work location that at least two persons trained in first aid and CPR shall be available and that new employees must be trained in first aid and CPR within 90 days of their hiring dates. First aid and CPR training must be performed by a certified instructor and be equal to that of the American Red Cross or the Mine Safety and Health Administration.

Section 3422. Ropes and Tree Worker Climbing Equipment

The scope of this section has been broadened to include standards for other tree worker climbing equipment including climbing ropes.

This section now requires all load bearing components of a climbing system shall have a minimum tensile strength of 5,000 pounds. An exception to this requirement is for equipment, such as a mechanical ascending device, provided that it is used with a secondary device that meets the minimum tensile strength requirements of this subsection.

Revisions to outdate provisions will now bring current industry practices and criteria for

the use and design of climbing lines. The new standards provide requirements related to the safe use of climbing ropes and equipment used to secure the tree worker in a tree or aerial lift.

Section 3423. Electrical Hazards, General.

The amendments provide the minimum clearances (for unqualified employees) from low voltage conductors that are equivalent to the federal standards and industry practices for such work.

Section 3424. Mobile Equipment.

The amendments provides that the transportation of employees and materials shall be conducted in accordance with the provisions of GISO Article 27. Article 27 pertains to safe transport and use of equipment used for employee transportation.

Section 3425. Portable Power Hand Tools.

This section contains new requirements for the safe use of power saws and requires safety devices.

Section 3426. Hand Tools.

This section provides general requirements for the safe use of hand tools during tree work operations. The new rules now requires that when climbing into a tree, tree workers shall not carry tools and equipment in their hands unless they are tools used to assist them in their climbing.

Section 3427. Safe Work Procedures.

Section 3427 includes a broad range of safe tree work procedures including climbing and access into trees, pruning and trimming operations and felling of trees.

To access additional information regarding the new rules click here.