While there are many different parts of the job when you are a tree surgeon, there are some basic facts and matters that you need to remember. You should always have safety as the number one factor to consider, and this was not the case in Cornwall last year. In fact, it was very fortunate that no one was hurt in the incident which dated back to March of 2017, but which has recently gone through the Courts.
The case resulted in a contractor from Cornwall being fined because a tree fell into a public area, ultimately hitting a parked car. Tobias Smith, who trades as Truro Tree Services, was in Truro Magistrates Court when the story of him removing a large and mature cypress tree, which was in a private garden, was heard.
A tow rope attached to the work’s van was used as part of the process
The court heard how chainsaw cuts were made to the lower areas of the trunk and how ropes were attached to bring the tree down in an area that had been designated as a safe place. However, the tree didn’t fall, and Smith made the decision to lower the tree down using a tow rope which was attached to the company van.
This resulted in the tree falling but not in the direction it was intended to fall. Instead, the tree managed to veer off course by around 70 degrees, it managed to fall through a boundary wall, making its way across a public pavement and then the tree fell onto the roof of a parked car. As stated, no one was hurt in the incident but that was perhaps down to good fortune as opposed to any judgment or calculations!
The HSE found that Smith and his team were not qualified for the work
An investigation was undertaken by the Health and Safety Executive, the HSE, and it was found that Smith and this team didn’t hold sufficient qualifications or had not received suitable training to carry out this work. It was also found that Smith hadn’t identified the obvious hazards to the general public and to the contractors working on the job.
Naturally, the courts took a dim view of this and Smith was fined £615 while he was ordered to pay costs of £1,000. In many ways, Smith can count himself lucky that more serious damage didn’t take place and that no one was hurt because of his actions.
This reinforces the importance of undertaking tree surgeon work in a safe and appropriate manner. The consequences that can arise out of not following safety procedures or being competent in the role can have a huge impact.
HSE Inspector Paul Mannell released a statement saying; “This incident could so easily have been avoided by simply carrying out correct control measures and safe working practices. Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”