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Man dies while trimming branches, OSHA investigates

On July 27, a man lost his life in a tree-trimming accident in Pennsylvania. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration was reported to be looking into the incident after the man's death. According to authorities, the man was working for a company in Bethlehem that had been contracted to clear away tree branches from power lines in preparation for a 10-day music festival that was coming to the region when he hit a high-voltage power line as he worked near a river and the vehicle he was in caught on fire. Officials are uncertain if he fell or jumped into the water.

The coroner is presently waiting for the results of the autopsy in the workplace accident. The OSHA investigation could take as long as six months, and the company could be fined if OSHA determines that they were negligent. They will make a recommendation when they finish their investigation in hopes that they can prevent other accidents. They did not release additional information since the investigation is in the preliminary stages.

Neither the electrical company nor the tree-trimming company released further comments on the accident. However, a spokesperson for the electrical company explained that workers commonly work around highly charged power lines. He estimated that the line carried about 12,000 volts of electricity and that they are normally active during the kind of projects that the worker performed. Tree-trimming work in the area is slated to resume on July 29.

When someone loses his or her life in a workplace accident, family members might want to hold the responsible parties accountable, especially if negligence or poor safety practices caused the incident. A workers' compensation attorney might be able to help them pursue a claim against an employer.

Source: Lehigh Valley Live, "OSHA investigating fatal tree-trimming accident on Bethlehem's towpath", Sarah M. Wojcik , July 29, 2013

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