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Virginia Administrative Code
Title 16. Labor And Employment
Agency 25. Safety And Health Codes Board
Chapter 73. Regulation Applicable to Tree Trimming Operations
2/28/2024

16VAC25-73-60. Safe use of vehicles and mobile equipment used in arboriculture.

A. General.

1. Prior to daily use of any vehicles and mobile equipment (units), visual walk-around inspections and operational checks shall be made in accordance with manufacturers' and owners' instructions (see 16VAC25-60-120) and applicable federal, state, and local requirements.

2. Units shall be equipped and maintained with manufacturers' safety devices, instructions, warnings, and safeguards. Arborists and other workers shall follow instructions provided by manufacturers.

3. Manufacturers' preventive maintenance inspections and parts replacement procedures shall be followed.

4. Manufacturers' instructions shall be followed in detecting hydraulic leaks. No part of the body shall be used to locate or stop hydraulic leaks.

5. Units shall be operated or maintained only by authorized and qualified personnel in accordance with company policies and federal, state, or local laws.

6. Material and equipment carried on vehicles shall be properly stored and secured in compliance with the design of the unit in order to prevent the movement of material or equipment.

7. If previously installed by the manufacturer, step surfaces and platforms on mobile equipment shall be properly maintained ].

8. Safety seat belts, when provided by the manufacturer, shall be worn while a unit is being operated.

9. Riding or working outside or on top of units shall not be permitted unless the units are designed for that purpose or the operator is performing maintenance or inspection. Fall protection shall be provided for employees performing maintenance on top of units six feet or more above a lower level. Fall protection is not required when performing inspections on top of units six feet or more above a lower level.

10. Hoisting or lifting equipment on vehicles shall be used within rated capacities as stated by the manufacturers' specifications.

11. Units with obscured rear vision, particularly those with towed equipment, shall be backed up in accordance with 16VAC25-97.

12. When units are left unattended, keys shall be removed from ignition, the wheels chocked, and, if applicable, the parking brake applied.

13. Units shall be turned off, keys removed from the ignition, and rotating parts at rest prior to making repairs or adjustments, except where manufacturers' procedures require otherwise. Defects or malfunctions affecting the safe operation of equipment shall be corrected before such units are placed into use.

14. Personal protective equipment (for example, eye, head, hand, and ear protection) shall be worn in accordance with 16VAC25-73-40 D.

15. When towing, safety chains shall be crossed under the tongue of the unit being towed and connected to the towing vehicle.

16. The unit's exhaust system shall not present a fire hazard.

17. Towed units that detach from another unit (for example, a motorized vehicle) shall be chocked or otherwise secured in place.

18. Units operated off-road shall be operated in the proper gear and at the proper speed relative to the operating environment and the manufacturers' instructions and guidelines.

B. Aerial devices.

1. The items contained in subsection A of this section shall always be included in the review of this section. 16VAC25-90-1910.67 is hereby incorporated by reference. Damaged aerial devices and vehicles shall be removed from service and tagged until repaired or discarded.

2. Aerial devices shall be provided with an approved point of attachment on which to secure a full-body harness with an energy-absorbing lanyard, which shall be worn when aloft.

3. Booms, buckets, or any other part of the aerial device shall not be allowed to make contact or violate minimum approach distances with energized electrical conductors, poles, or similar conductive objects. See Table 1 of 16VAC25-73-50 or §§ 59.1-406 through 59.1-414 of the Code of Virginia (Overhead High Voltage Line Safety Act), as applicable.

4. Aerial devices or aerial ladders shall not be used as cranes or hoists to lift or lower materials or tree parts, unless they were specifically designed by the manufacturer to do so (see 16VAC25-60-120).

5. Wheel chocks shall be set before using an aerial device unless the device has no wheels on the ground or is designed for use without chocks.

6. Units equipped with outriggers or a stabilizing system shall be operated in a manner consistent with manufacturers' requirements.

7. The operator shall ensure adequate clearance exists and give warning to all employees in the work area prior to lowering outriggers. Pads shall be placed under outrigger feet when they are needed to ensure stable footing.

8. When operating aerial devices, the operator shall look in the direction the bucket is traveling and be aware of the location of the booms in relation to all other objects and hazards.

9. Clearances from passing vehicles shall be maintained, or traffic control shall be provided when booms or buckets are operated over roads in accordance with VDOT's Virginia Work Area Protection Manual.

10. One-person buckets shall not have more than one person in them during operations.

11. Hydraulic/pneumatic tools shall be disconnected when they are being serviced or adjusted, except where manufacturers' procedures require otherwise.

12. To avoid flying particles or whipping hydraulic/pneumatic hoses, pressure shall be released before connections are broken, except where quick-acting connectors are used. Hydraulic/pneumatic hoses shall never be kinked in order to cut off pressure.

13. No part of the body shall be used to locate or stop hydraulic leaks.

14. Hoses affecting dielectric characteristics of equipment shall meet manufacturers' requirements.

15. The flash point of hydraulic fluid shall meet the minimum set by the manufacturer.

16. Combined loads shall not exceed rated lift capacities. Load ratings shall be conspicuously and permanently posted on aerial devices in accordance with ANSI A92.2.

17. Electric cables/cords used with electric saws or lights, or other conductive material shall not be run from the vehicle to the bucket when arborists are working in proximity to energized electrical conductors.

18. Aerial devices shall not be moved with an arborist on an elevated platform (for example, a bucket) except when equipment is specifically designed for such operation.

19. Holes shall not be drilled in buckets or liners.

20. During aerial device operations, arborists and other workers who are not qualified line-clearance arborists shall maintain a minimum approach distance from energized electrical conductors in accordance with Table 1 of 16VAC25-73-50. Only qualified line-clearance arborists or qualified line-clearance arborist trainees using an insulated aerial device may operate in accordance with minimum approach distances provided in Table 1.

21. Arborists and other workers shall be instructed that insulated aerial buckets do not protect them from other electric paths to the ground, such as paths through trees, guy wires, or from one phase wire to the second phase wire, any one of which can be fatal.

22. All underground hazards shall be located prior to operating aerial lift devices off-road. These hazards could include natural gas tanks, underground oil tanks, and septic systems.

C. Brush chippers.

1. The items contained in subsection A of this section shall always be included in the review of this section. Damaged brush chippers shall be removed from service and tagged until repaired or discarded.

2. Access panels (for example, guards) for maintenance and adjustment, including discharge chute and cutter housing, shall be closed and secured prior to starting the engine of brush chippers. These access panels shall not be opened or unsecured until the engine and all moving parts have come to a complete stop (see 16VAC25-73-110, Appendix B, General Safety Procedures that Apply to All Tree Work).

3. Rotary drum or disc brush chippers not equipped with a mechanical infeed system shall be equipped with an infeed hopper not less than 85 inches (2.15 m) measured from the blades or knives to ground level over the center line of the hopper. Side members of the infeed hopper shall have sufficient height so as to prevent workers from contacting the blades or knives during operations.

4. Rotary drum or disc brush chippers not equipped with a mechanical infeed system shall have a flexible anti-kickback device installed in the infeed hopper to reduce the risk of injury from flying chips and debris.

5. Chippers equipped with a mechanical infeed system shall have a quick-stop and reversing device on the infeed system. The activating mechanism for the quick-stop and reversing device shall be located across the top, along each side, and close to the feed end of the infeed hopper within easy reach of the worker.

6. Vision, hearing, and other appropriate personal protective equipment shall be worn when in the immediate area of a brush chipper in accordance with 16VAC25-73-40 D.

7. Arborists, mechanics, and other workers shall not, under any circumstances, reach into the infeed hopper when the cutter disc, rotary drum, or feed rollers are moving.

8. When trailer chippers are detached from the vehicles, they shall be chocked or otherwise secured in place.

9. When in a towing position, chipper safety chains shall be crossed under the tongue of the chipper and properly affixed to the towing vehicle.

10. See 16VAC25-73-90 F for additional requirements.

D. Sprayers and related equipment.

1. The items contained in subsection A of this section shall always be included in the review of this section. Damaged sprayers and related equipment shall be removed from service and tagged until repaired or discarded.

2. Walking and working surfaces of all sprayers and related equipment shall be covered with skid-resistant material.

3. Equipment on which the applicator/operator stands while the vehicle is in motion shall be equipped with guardrails around the working area. Guardrails shall be constructed in accordance with 16VAC25-90-1910.23.

4. The applicator/operator shall make a visual inspection of hoses, fittings, exposed plumbing, tanks, covers, and related equipment prior to its use each workday.

5. The applicator/operator shall not allow hoses or other parts of the equipment to create a tripping hazard for coworkers or the public.

6. The applicator/operator shall have a firm grip on the spray gun/excavation tool when pulling the trigger.

7. The operator of high-pressure excavation equipment shall wear a face shield in addition to eye protection.

8. Related equipment:

a. The applicator/operator shall be aware of underground utility locations when drilling holes in the ground for fertilizer or pesticide applications.

b. The equipment shall have splash guards, and the applicator shall wear eye protection when injecting liquid fertilizer or pesticides into the ground.

c. The applicator shall wear eye protection and follow label instructions when injecting liquids into trees.

E. Stump cutters.

1. The items contained in subsection A of this section shall always be included in the review of this section. Damaged stump cutters shall be removed from service and tagged until repaired or discarded.

2. Stump cutters shall be equipped with enclosures or guards that reduce the risk of injury during operation. Enclosures or guards shall be kept in place when stump cutters are operative.

3. Arborists and other workers in the immediate stump-cutting work zone shall wear vision, hearing, and other personal protective equipment in accordance with 16VAC25-73-40 D.

4. When in a towing position, stump-cutter safety chains shall be crossed under the tongue of the stump cutter and properly affixed to the towing vehicle.

5. Towable stump cutters or stump-cutter trailers, when detached from the vehicle, shall be chocked or otherwise secured in place.

6. The operator shall be aware of underground utility locations prior to performing work.

F. Vehicles.

1. The items contained in subsection A of this section shall always be included in the review of this section. (See 16VAC25-60-120.) Damaged vehicles shall be removed from service and tagged until repaired or discarded.

2. A steel bulkhead or equivalent protective devices shall be provided to protect workers from load shifts in vehicles carrying logs or other material.

3. Load-securing procedures shall be followed to prevent accidental shifting or discharge of logs or other materials from the vehicle during transport.

4. Logs or other material shall not overhang the sides; obscure taillights, brake lights, or vision; or exceed height limits per state and local requirements for bridges, overpasses, utility lines, or other overhead hazards.

5. To avoid the hazard of spontaneous combustion or the generation of undesirable odors, wood chips shall not be left in vehicles for extended periods.

G. Log loaders, knucklebooms, cranes, and related hoists

1. The items contained in subsection A of this section shall always be included in the review of this section. Damaged log loaders, knuckle booms, cranes and related hoists shall be removed from service and tagged until repaired or discarded.

2. Log loaders, cranes, and related hoisting equipment shall be inspected in accordance with applicable regulations as well as manufacturers' instructions and guidelines. Chokers, slings, and other means of lifting, lowering, or rigging equipment shall be inspected before each use. An inspection procedure checklist shall be available to the crew.

3. Operators of hoisting equipment shall be trained and shall maintain a minimum approach distance from energized conductors in accordance with Table 1 of 16VAC25-73-50, or §§ 59.1-406 through 59.1-414, Overhead High Voltage Line Safety Act, as applicable. A spotter shall be used when work is being performed in proximity to electrical conductors. Personnel assigned to work in proximity to the tree removal shall be trained and follow guidelines for electrical hazards (see 16VAC25-73-50).

4. The crane operator shall be familiar with the potential hazards encountered and operational techniques used in tree work.

5. Cranes with telescoping booms shall be equipped with an anti-two block device. A boom angle indicator and a device to indicate the boom's extended length shall be clearly visible to the operator at all times. A load rating chart with clearly legible letters and figures shall be provided with each crane and securely fixed at a location easily visible to the operator.

6. Operators of hoisting equipment shall remain at the controls while a load is lifted, suspended, or lowered.

7. Tree sections shall be rigged to minimize load shifting. Controlled load lowering shall be employed. Shock-loading shall be avoided, and free fall is prohibited. A green log weight chart (see 16VAC25-73-130, Appendix D) shall be available to the crew. All workers shall be kept clear of loads about to be lifted and of suspended loads.

8. Riding the load line of a crane while it is under load tension shall be prohibited.

9. The use of a crane to hoist a qualified arborist into position is prohibited, except when the use of conventional means of reaching the work area, such as, but not limited to, an aerial lift, would be more hazardous or is not physically possible because of worksite conditions. If the above exception applies, a qualified arborist may be hoisted into position utilizing a crane if the crane manufacturer's specifications and limitations do not prohibit such use, and any fall protection requirements of the crane manufacturer are complied with, and the arborist is tied in with an arborist climbing line and arborist saddle and secured to a designated anchor point on the boom line or crane. The following procedures shall be followed when an arborist is to be lifted by a crane:

a. The qualified crane operator, the signal person, the person responsible for the work to be performed and the arborist to be lifted shall meet prior to the work to review the procedures to be followed. A job briefing shall be done before any work begins, in accordance with 16VAC25-73-40 A 4.

b. The arborist climbing line shall be secured to the crane in such a way that it does not interfere with the function of any damage-prevention or warning device on the crane and so that no part of the crane compromises the climbing line or any component of the climbing system.

c. The crane operator shall test the adequacy of footing prior to any lifting, and shall conduct a trial lift immediately before lifting the arborist into position. The crane operator shall determine that all systems, controls and safety devices are activated and functioning properly; that no interferences exist; and that all configurations necessary to reach the intended work location will allow the operator to remain under the 50% limit of the hoist's rated capacity. The crane shall be uniformly level and located on firm footing. If necessary, blocking shall be used so that the support system does not exceed its load-bearing capabilities. Cranes equipped with outriggers shall have them all fully extended and properly set, as applicable, before lifting and lowering operations begin and/or before the qualified arborist is lifted.

d. Lifting and supporting shall be done under controlled conditions and under the direction of a qualified arborist or an appointed signal person. Lifting and supporting operations shall not be performed during adverse weather conditions such as thunderstorms, high winds, and snow and ice storms.

e. The load-line hoist drum shall have a system or other device on the power train, other than the load hoist brake, that regulates the lowering speed of the hoist mechanism. Load lines shall be capable of supporting, without failure, at least seven times the maximum intended load, except that where rotation resistant rope is used, the lines shall be capable of supporting without failure, at least 10 times the maximum intended load. The required design factor is achieved by taking the current safety factor of 3.5 and applying 50% de-rating of the crane capacity.

f. Communication between the crane operator and the arborist being lifted shall be maintained either directly or through the appointed signal person. This communication shall either be visual, using the accepted hand signals, or audible, using voice or radio. Radio communication shall be used to control blind picks. The crew members shall know and follow hand signals for standard crane operations (see 16VAC25-73-150, Appendix F).

g. The crane operator shall remain at the controls when the qualified arborist is attached to the crane and during lifting and lowering operations.

h. The crane boom and load line shall be moved in a slow, controlled, cautious manner when the arborist is attached. Lifting or lowering speed shall not exceed 100 feet/minute (0.5 m/sec), and any sudden movements shall be avoided. The crane shall be operated so that lowering is power controlled.

i. The crane carrier shall not travel at any time while the qualified arborist is attached. An accurate determination of the load radius to be used during lifting shall be made before the qualified arborist is hoisted.

j. The qualified arborist shall be detached from the crane any time it comes under load tension.

H. Specialized units.

1. The items contained in subsection A of this section shall always be included in the review of this section.

2. Off-road and tracked vehicles shall be operated at the proper speed and in the proper gear relative to the operating environment and the manufacturer's instructions and guidelines.

3. Deadman controls on towing equipment for brush hogs and similar implements shall be used and maintained in good working condition. If the deadman control is malfunctioning or not operational, the equipment shall be removed from service and tagged until it has been repaired or discarded. When deadman controls were not provided by the manufacturer, the worker shall disengage the power source to the rotary or cutter head before dismounting.

I. Equipment-mounted winches.

1. The items contained in subsection A of this section shall always be included in the review of this section. Damaged equipment mounted winches shall be removed from service and tagged until repaired or discarded.

2. Operators shall wear the appropriate personal protective equipment during winch operations, including eye and head protection.

3. The winch cable/synthetic line shall be inspected daily for broken or worn strands, bird caging, major kinks, and other defects. Damaged cables shall be removed from service and tagged until repaired or discarded.

4. Cable hooks and attachment points shall be inspected for damage. Damaged hooks or attachment assemblies shall be removed from service and tagged until repaired or discarded.

5. All mounting bolts and hardware shall be inspected for loose or missing components. The winch shall not be used until complete repairs are made to damaged or missing bolts and hardware.

6. Operators shall be aware of the dangers of load or cable breakage and ensure that all personnel remain clear of the recoil area in the event of load or cable breakage.

7. All winch operators shall be properly trained and be aware of the inherent dangers associated with winch operations.

8. Operators shall be aware of the winch cable at all times during extension and ensure that it does not become a hazard to personnel or machinery.

9. Winch systems and cables shall be used only as intended and instructed by the manufacturer.

10. The winch shall never be used with personnel, including the operator, within the span of the winch cable and the winch.

11. Pinch point hazards develop during winching operations; therefore, all operators involved in the winching operation shall constantly be aware of such hazards and stand clear of these areas.

12. All loads shall be pulled in such a manner as to avoid angles that may result in tipping, cause the vehicle to become unstable, or result in unintended movement of the vehicle.

13. Pulling loads from the side requires special equipment and techniques. Therefore, loads shall be pulled in line with the winch unless the winch is properly equipped with a fair lead and the operator is trained to pull loads at an angle.

14. The operator shall ensure that the vehicle supporting the winch is secured to avoid unintended movement.

15. The operator shall ensure that all rigging points comply with 16VAC25-73-90 D.

16. To ensure precise communication, an effective means of communication shall be established and used with all workers involved in the winching operations (see 16VAC25-73-90 D 14).

Statutory Authority

§ 40.1-22 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 27, Issue 15, eff. April 27, 2011; Errata, 27:18 VA.R. 2116 May 9, 2011.

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