Anthony Donahue, a 34-year old electrocuted by a power line while trimming a tree in Fort Lauderdale in April, would be alive today had his employer taken proper precautions, a federal worker safety agency said Tuesday.
The agency, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), plans to fine Donahue’s employer, Fort Lauderdale-based Monster Tree Service, $133,617 over the death.
“This tragedy was preventable had Monster Tree Service taken the necessary steps to ensure the worker was protected while working around overhead power lines,” Condell Eastmond, OSHA’s area director in Fort Lauderdale, said in a statement. “We’ve seen an unfortunate rise of similar incidents in the tree trimming industry recently due to employers not following OSHA standards. Ignoring safety standards near energized power lines gambles with worker’s lives.”
He was responsible for his own actions.
Ray Carolan, Monster Tree owner
But Monster Tree’s owner, Ray Carolan, said he was not responsible.
“It’s a very unfortunate accident, but the guy was a subcontractor,” Carolan told the Miami Herald. “He was responsible for his own actions.”
Donahue was using an aluminum pole saw too close to a power line while trimming a palm tree 18 feet in the air near a private home on Bay View Drive, OSHA investigators found.
Carolan said he provided appropriate tools for his workers and Donahue was at fault.
“He was trimming the canopy of a tree with a metal ladder and metal pole saw when he had a fiberglass ladder and fiberglass pole saw ready to rock-and-roll right there,” Carolan said. “I can’t tell you how many times we talked about this in safety meetings.”
He plans to contest the fine.
“I can’t afford that,” he said. “This is my livelihood I’m talking about.”
‘I lost my son’
Donahue was a serious, hard-working man, said Sal Guariniello, who said he had known him since childhood.
“Tony and his mother moved in with me when he was 2 1/2 years old,” Guariniello said. “I raised him. I lost my son in other words.”
He said Donahue started trimming trees when he was 13 or 14 and had always been careful.
“I told him not to work with [Carolan]” because of rumored accidents at his job sites, Guariniello said.
“I’m a general contractor,” he added. “You’re responsible for everyone who’s working for you.”
Ray Donahue, Anthony’s brother, said the family had filed a suit against Monster Tree, but a search of court records did not show a pending case.