Court Orders Bay City Landscaper to Stop Operations following MIOSHA Order

Media Contact: LARA Communications 517-373-9280
Email: mediainfo@michigan.gov

September 20, 2017 – On September 18, 2017, a Bay County Circuit Court Judge issued a judgment against Sunset Tree Service & Landscaping, LLC of Bay City (Sunset) in a lawsuit filed by Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Director Shelly Edgerton. The suit was filed by Director Edgerton to seek enforcement of a Cease Operations Order she authorized against the company earlier this spring.

On May 1, 2017, the Department issued a press release announcing it had directed the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) to execute a Cease Operations Order against Sunset for continuing to operate without abating hazards previously cited in June of 2016. The release announced MIOSHA has also issued 12 new citations totaling $222,000 in proposed penalties as a result of two MIOSHA inspections conducted with Sunset from January 11, 2017 to March 15, 2017. MIOSHA issued six failure-to-abate citations for the violations listed above and six willful serious citations – the most serious classification.

Shortly following the announcement of the execution of the Cease Operations Order, MIOSHA received several contacts from concerned citizens indicating that the company was continuing to operate despite the Director’s Order. On May 30, 2017, following efforts by MIOSHA to confirm the allegations, the Department Director filed a Complaint with the Bay County Circuit Court for Sunset’s failure to obey the Cease Operations Order. 

Judge Joseph K. Sheeran issued judgment in the Director’s favor, ordering Sunset to cease the following operations until it has complied with abatement requirements as prescribed by MIOSHA:

  • Cease operation of the Bandit Chipper;
  • Cease from engaging in work operations requiring implementation of traffic control devices; and
  • Cease from employing workers that have not received training in the hazards of tree trimming operations, personal protective equipment and available safeguards.

Sunset Tree Service & Landscaping employs six workers and is an ornamental shrub and tree service. The business requires the extensive use of personal protective equipment, hand tools and various powered equipment used in the removal and processing of trees. 

Sunset has an extensive history of safety violations. Between 2011 and 2016, 14 inspections were conducted at the company, resulting in 48 citations with total initial penalties of $150,000. It has also been cited nine times for failure-to-abate. MIOSHA executed a Cease Operations Order against the company in May 2016, which was later lifted after it abated the violations.

“Sunset’s disregard of MIOSHA regulations continues to jeopardize the safety of its most valuable asset – its employees,” said Edgerton. “While MIOSHA strives to work collaboratively with the employer community, such a pattern of non-compliance requires that we take the necessary enforcement actions.”

Once Sunset has complied with abatement requirements as prescribed by MIOSHA, MIOSHA will notify Sunset and Director Edgerton that the company is able to resume full operations.

For more information about MIOSHA, please visit www.michigan.gov/miosha.
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