By Aaron Blevins, 9/27/2012
Cal/OSHA is investigating the death in Hollywood
A tree trimmer for Super Cuts Tree Service died on Sept. 22 at 12:22 p.m. after fronds from a palm tree fell on him while working at 1412 Martel Ave. The Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) is investigating. The company had not been hired by the city.
The Los Angeles Fire Department responded to the incident, and the man was pronounced dead at the scene. The man had been buried in palm fronds approximately 30 feet above the ground. The Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office could not identify the man by deadline, but his name has been reported as Gerson Hernandez, 27.
According to the Bureau of Street Service’s Urban Forestry Division, palm trees often have hidden structural problems that can compromise their trunks and cause a “whole tree failure.” The structural problems could be the result of decay or animal nests.
Dry palm fronds can come loose and fall individually or in groups, causing damage to anything underneath. Fronds that have had their trunk attachments weakened or broken may remain in the tree, then fall all at once, trapping or suffocating a tree trimmer.
In the past, tree trimmers have been trapped by fronds landing on their safety strap, which is wrapped around the trunk. This pushes the trimmer against the tree, which can prevent them from inflating their lungs. According to officials, trees with a large number of fronds should never be pruned from underneath. If an aerial tower is unavailable, ladders can be used, with the worker trimming from the top down. Workers can also use throw lines to allow the trimmer to ascend outside of the fronds. However, the division recommends that these techniques only be used by an expert. Fire department officials could not specify which method Hernandez was using on Sept. 22.