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Felling trees

Summary

A member of the public was seriously injured when a 7 metre high lime tree was felled into a public road. The lime was felled by a trained arborist even though it was within the pavement near a crossroads. The contracting company did not carry out and record a site-specific risk assessment and only used signs and traffic cones to prevent access to the felling zone. The person injured was walking along the pavement towards the crossroads and was hit by the falling tree, which fractured her skull and later triggered a convulsion.

Action

The contractor was prosecuted under Section 3(1) of the Health & Safety at Work Act for not taking adequate precautions to protect the public. The company pleaded guilty and was fined £3,500 together with £2,723 towards the prosecution's costs.

Advice

This accident could have easily been prevented if an on-site risk assessment had been carried out before work started. The tree should have been sectionally dismantled and precautions such as barriers should have been in place to prevent the public approaching the work area.

2010-07-29