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Chainsaw Incident Lands Tree Surgeon In Court

Tree Plunge Causes Serious Injury To Ground Worker

18.11.2014

A tree surgeon from Essex has been prosecuted over an incident involving a chainsaw in which one elderly worker was seriously injured.

The accident happened while work was taking place on a tree in Little Oakley, near Harwich. Tree surgeon Gilbert Bradfield, aged 71, fell from the tree while using a chainsaw and the device was still running as he plunged nearly four metres.

He landed on his 72-year-old colleague, who has not been named, causing his co-worker to suffer multiple injuries including a laceration to the head, a dislocated shoulder and a punctured lung. By contrast, Mr Bradfield was unharmed.

To make matters worse, after spending four days in hospital the injured party had a fall at home, causing the dislocation of both shoulders. He was taken back to hospital and spent eight weeks in intensive care with a serious chest infection. He has been left with nerve damage in both shoulders that means he has little use of either arm.

An HSE investigation found Mr Bradfield, who had worked as a tree surgeon for more than 30 years, had failed to take the necessary steps to carry out the work safely.

On the day of the incident, he was using a three-stage extending ladder to reach the branches and it was when he cut through one that he was knocked off balance by it as it swung round, causing the fall. He was being assisted by three workers who were holding the ladder in place, including the person he landed on.

The HSE investigation found no harnesses were being used to prevent a fall, none of the workers were wearing any protective equipment and nobody had been trained in the correct use of a chainsaw.

As a result, Mr Bradfield was charged with - and pleaded guilty to - single breaches of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 in the hearing at Colchester Magistrates' Court. He was fined £10,000 with costs of £889.

Speaking afterwards, HSE inspector Anthony Brookes commented: "Tree work is a hazardous occupation and it is essential that the risks are recognised. In the last ten years, 24 tree surgeons have been killed and 1,400 have been injured."

Expert Opinion
Falls from height are some of the most common accidents that take place in the workplace and this particular incident also included the added hazard of dangerous machinery. In this incident a man suffered severe and life-changing injuries as a result of a lack of health and safety measures being implemented.

“Despite employers being expected to comply with the latest health and safety regulations, we regularly represent clients who have suffered accidents at work as a result of poor health and safety standard. We hope that this serious incident and others like it reinforce the message that employers must take their responsibility for safety in the workplace seriously to prevent incidents like this in the future.”
Stephen Nye, Partner

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