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Washington L&I issues bulletin on dangers of bark and mulch blowers

Tumwater, WA – The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries’ Division of Occupational Safety and Health has released a bulletin that warns about the hazards of bark and mulch blower systems.

Washington L&I said that throughout the country in recent years, the truck-mounted systems have killed three workers and seriously injured one after the workers climbed or fell into the truck hopper while the exposed mechanical equipment was running.

Released July 23, the bulletin offers the following tips:

  • Before work begins, refer to the manufacturer’s safety instructions, prohibitions and applicable safety rules to develop procedures for potentially hazardous tasks.
  • Establish lockout/tagout procedures for opening the truck’s rear hatch.
  • Train crews so they know the hopper interior is a permit-required confined space. Entry exposes them to hazards such as moving belts, shafts and augers that can trap and amputate body parts.
  • Ensure low-literacy and non-English-speaking employees understand written and verbal instructions.