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Tree trimmer rescued after safety harness causes work injury

Trimming trees can be a hazardous occupation, and it is vital for tree trimmers to be protected from fall accidents by proper fall protection gear. A California worker recently suffered a work injury and escaped death when his safety harness saved him from falling. San Diego fire fighters ultimately lowered the tree trimmer who was hanging from a palm tree 35 feet above the ground.

Rescue crews explained that the worker was contracted to trim palm trees in the area to avoid interference with power lines. After hoisting himself to the top of the tree, he proceeded with trimming away branches. The vegetation of the tree unexpectedly gave way, causing the worker to fall. Although his safety harness prevented his fall to the ground, it caused him to be trapped and left him hanging upside down.

Fire fighters say a safety harness may cause pressure that prevents a worker's breathing in certain positions, and witnesses in a nearby building reported the man calling for help, saying he was unable to breathe. It took the rescuers almost an hour to reach the worker, and another hour to lower him to the ground. He was then transported to a medical facility. The severity of his injuries was not reported.

Fortunately, this tree trimmer's employer provided him with appropriate protective gear, though many others disregard the safety of their workers. Due to the severity of this man's injuries and trauma, there will be unanticipated medical bills to be settled. Fortunately, the California workers' compensation insurance fund provides financial relief for a victim of a work injury. Claims may be pursued for compensation of medical expenses and lost wages and additional relief as necessary.

Source: NBC San Diego, "Firefighters Rescue Trimmer Trapped in Tree", Monica Garske and Artie Ojeda, April 9, 2015

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