Arb contractor fined after tree surgeon falls 18m from broken branch

A Gloucestershire arboricultural contractor has been fined £2,000 after a worker he subcontracted was injured in a fall during a "poorly planned" job.

Image: HW
Image: HW

Stroud Magistrates' Court heard that Richard Cole, trading as Richard Cole Contracting, had been contracted by Gloucestershire County Council to remove a damaged and diseased chestnut tree in Cheltenham in April last year.

Cole had then contracted self-employed Mr Hunt to perform the elevated work while five of Cole's employees carried out ground work. Cole provided an elevated work platform, chainsaws and equipment to lower parts of the tree to the ground.

Hunt used the platform to access the tree before attaching himself to it with his own climbing equipment.

While cutting away the section above his anchor points, the whole limb fell away from the trunk of the tree, causing Hunt to fall with the tree limb when the rope attaching him to the platform snapped.

He dislocated his hip and suffered cuts and bruising after falling more than 18m to the ground.

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found the work was "poorly planned" and that the risk assessment for the work was inadequate as it should have identified the need for a more suitable work platform.

The work could have been undertaken from a larger platform, meaning that Mr Hunt would not have had to physically climb into the tree to cut it, it found.

Pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations, Cole was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £780 in costs.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Paul Newton said: "Given the height from which Mr Hunt fell, the consequences could have been far worse.

"This needless incident could have been avoided if Richard Cole had provided an appropriate sized work platform for Mr Hunt to work on."

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