October 17, 2019

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Passers-by injured by falling tree

A 46-year-old woman was knocked unconscious by a falling tree and her four-year-old grandson received minor head injuries while a charitable trust was undertaking tree felling.

tree fellingOn 11 December 2017, Sheffield Countryside Conservation Trust (SCCT) was tree felling in Truman Road, Stocksbridge. The tree was being felled by chainsaw with the assistance of a winch and when the last cut was applied, instead of it falling in the expected direction, it twisted out of control and fell onto the lane. The tree came to rest on the site boundary wall and a security gate on the other side of the lane. At the time the woman and her grandson were walking up the lane and two were injured by the falling tree. The woman’s five-year-old granddaughter, also present, was uninjured.

Investigating, the HSE found that the characteristics of the particular tree were not properly assessed prior to felling and the tree did not fall in the intended direction. The investigation also found that:

  • The method used for felling this size and shape of tree was not the correct one. A different method was needed because of its shape and angle of lean;
  • Site supervision was inadequate;
  • The work on the day of the incident was poorly organised;
  • Effective measures had not been taken to prevent members of the public entering the danger zone.

Sheffield Countryside Conservation Trust of Wood Lane Countryside Centre, Stannington, Sheffield pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The trust was fined £3,000.00 and ordered to pay £1,000.00 in costs.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Eddy Tarn commented: “Use of signs and banksmen to warn members of the public should have been in place. This incident could have easily been prevented if a site-specific risk assessment and method statement had been used”.

Watch: Most-read fines and prosecutions in September 2019.

Barbour download: Guide to working at height

Work at any height can cause injury; a fall from a height of just one or two steps can cause serious injury.

The Regulations were amended in 2007 to extend their application to those who work at height providing instruction or leadership to one or more people engaged in caving or climbing by way of sport, recreation, team building or similar activities in Great Britain.

Download your free guide from Barbour to understand: Duties of persons in control of work at height; Duties of persons undertaking work at height; General controls when working at height; Method statement for work at height; Selection of a means of access; Working platforms; Guardrails and toeboards; Ladders Mobile work platforms; Suspended access equipment; Personal suspension equipment and, Inspection of fall arrest equipment.

Barbour EHS

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