An unidentified tree trimmer killed in a fall while cutting away dead limbs of a 60-70 foot tree on Camino Ricardo in Moraga Wednesday worked for the same company blamed after another worker, 25, was electrocuted when he made contact with power lines while doing similar work at a home in Alamo last year.
Investigators for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) found that the company supervisor/sales rep – responsible for setting crews up for jobs, looking for site-specific hazards and addressing those hazards in a safety meeting prior to work starting – did none of those things at the Alamo work site. Additionally, OSHA investigators determined that the supervisor for Superior Tree Service did not ensure that power to the 21,000 volt power lines dangling just feet away from where their worker labored with an uninsulated metal pole were de-energized prior to work starting.
As a result, an OSHA report finds: “Employee #1 made contact with the power lines, was electrocuted, causing him to catch on fire for almost an hour before the power could be shut off and (the) fire department could retrieve him. He was killed. He died of cardiac arrest primarily and secondarily of burning to death internally.”
The company incurred nearly $30,000 in fines as a result of that incident.
A representative for Superior Tree Service could not be reached for comment, though industry peers began reaching out to this site about their practices as word of this morning’s fatal fall began to spread.
Industry sources said the company has had frequent accidents and near-accidents, avoiding censure or license revocation with frequent name changes and shuttling management. The company currently has an “F” rating with the Better Business Bureau – for failing to respond to customer complaints.
OSHA Public Information Officer Luke Brown said the unidentified worker was standing on a limb while cutting others when it gave way, causing the fall. Brown said the incident remains under investigation by OSHA, with investigators working to determine if proper safety precautions were being taken.