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2 fatal work injuries among 3 Kansas City tree trimming deaths

Yard work is a chore many Pittsburg property owners choose to do themselves to save the expense of paying someone else to do it. Weeding, mowing and trimming are all part of the process, although some jobs like tree trimming are best left to the experts. Homeowners often don't realize how risky the work is.

According to the Tree Care Industry Association, the list of the top five deadliest jobs in America regularly includes tree trimming. Three fatal tree-care accidents occurred in Kansas City last month, two involving professionals fatally injured on the job. Nationwide, 79 people died in tree maintenance accidents in 2013 and 84 people the year previously.

Officials with the U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration are concerned about unsafe working conditions for people who trim trees for a living. The agency issued a June hazard bulletin that cautioned tree care employers to ramp up safety precautions to prevent injuries and fatalities. The Kansas City deaths were attributed to dangers typical in the tree care industry.

Some tree trimmers work high off the ground secured by ropes easily severed by a mistake with a chainsaw. That's what may have happened last month when an Olathe tree trimmer fell from a height of about 60 feet in Gardner. The 47-year-old man was a contractor with 15-years' experience.

Another tree care professional was killed in Parkville, when metal on a safety strap came in contact with a hot electrical wire. Electrocutions were responsible for 17 percent of all tree-care fatalities between 2009 and 2013. The third death was caused by a branch striking a property owner in Jefferson County.

Workers' compensation benefits help cover wage losses and medical costs for tree trimmers injured on the job. Family members are eligible for benefits when loved ones die in work accidents. Attorneys help victims and families receive all available monetary relief.

Source: The Kansas City Star, "Trimming trees is treacherous, even for experts", June 27, 2014

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