Tree Trimming Regulations

Private residents, public utility companies and the logging industry employ or contract with tree trimmers. Depending on the scope of the work, labor regulations vary with respect to equipment use, safety procedures and training requirements. Choosing to remove trees--rather than merely trim or prune them--is another aspect of the industry that governing bodies regulate.

American National Standards Institute (ANSI)

Some homeowners notice poles with electrical transmission lines on their properties. The use of trees and other vegetation makes it possible to mask unsightly aspects associated with them. Electric utility companies have the right to enter private land to maintain the transmission lines and also to trim trees and any other plants that the professionals deem necessary for safe access. Electric utilities also have the right to trim trees that have grown so tall as to interfere with the actual transmission. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) permits the removal of trees that grow under or into utility transmission lines. ANSI allows for pruning of these trees via the removal of branches. In order to support the growth patterns of different tree species, such as cottonwoods that must have 14 feet of clearance when growing beneath the lines, tree trimmers may remove the tree crowns. It is up to the homeowner to hire another tree trimming service to beautify the appearances of affected trees.

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

During the performance of their work, tree trimmers face the dangers of electrocution by partially hidden power lines and falls from great heights; in fact, between 1980 and 1989, the causes of work-related fatalities in the field showed that 36 percent of deceased tree trimmers died from electrocution while 32 percent died from injuries sustained during falls. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) urges companies that employ tree trimmers to educate their workers about these dangers and also provide training in CPR, the use of fall protection equipment and ANSI standards of aerial bucket use. The institute stresses that ground workers must verify the de-energizing of power lines that may feature hookups to more than one transformer. Workers must take special care when trimming trees that feature rot, since the internal tree damage leads to unforeseen splintering and breakage.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) governs numerous ancillary workplace safety aspects that affect tree trimming, such as noise protection for the ears. Regulations germane to the logging industry also affect tree trimmers who work with chain saws. OSHA specifies that these workers must wear cut-resistant foot protection, which protects tree trimmers against unanticipated chainsaw slippage. Clarifying its ruling, OSHA explains that acceptable materials include Kevlar, ballistic nylon and other layering materials that protect the worker's foot until the tree trimmer has a chance to react. Workers who do not use chain saws do not need to wear this kind of heavy duty footwear on the job. OSHA also regulates other aspects of tree trimming processes, such as the operation of wood chippers. Tree trimming crews that include a chipper must identify a chipper operator and provide him with a face mask that protects his entire facial area from splinters and airborne debris.

Keywords: tree trimming, ANSI, NIOSH, OSHA

About this Author

Based in the Los Angeles area, Sylvia Cochran is a seasoned freelance writer focusing on home and garden, travel and parenting articles. Her work has appeared in "Families Online Magazine" and assorted print and Internet publications.