Second arborist fatality prompts examination of health and safety issues

The Arboriculture Association (AA) has said that it is shocked and saddened by the death of arborist Greg Bulbec, the second fatality in the sector within 12 months.

Young father Greg Bulbec died on 15 February from chainsaw injuries while working in a tree in Bermondsey, South London.

Bulbec's death, the details of which remain unclear, follows the death of Alexander Kirkley, who died from chainsaw kickback injuries to the neck in February 2016.

The Arboriculture Association is working with a number of other organisations, including the Health & Safety Executive AFAG group, to explore what more could be done to ensure the safety of climbing arborists.

Legislation, training and good practice guidance, and the design and functionality of chainsaws - in particular top-handled saws - and availability and use of personal protective equipment (PPE) will be examined.

The AA said: "It is too early to announce any conclusions to these issues – of course they have been examined extensively over many years – but, like any operator of potentially lethal machinery (a car driver, for example), we must remain vigilant and attentive."

It also reminded arborists to:

• Think ahead – risk assess and plan
• Follow the guidance – top-handled saws are not ‘one-handed saws’
• Ensure contingency measures are in place – first aid, emergency and rescue plans.

The AA said: "Our thoughts and condolences go to the families and friends of both young men who have been lost to us while doing the job they loved. Let us try to ensure there are no more."

The ‘Report to prevent future deaths’, is issued under the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 and Regulation 28 of Coroners (investigations) Regulations 2013, in December 2016. 

Read health and safety resources for tree work from the Arboriculture Association.

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