Southend Magistrates Court heard how The F.A. Bartlett Tree Expert Company Limited were carrying out the work at Torrington Drive, Debden last summer when the tree was felled in the wrong direction. The large poplar tree fell across a grass verge, the public carriageway and footpath before coming to rest in the front gardens opposite, narrowly missing two members of the public.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the incident which occurred on 1 August 2016, found that the job was not properly planned or appropriately supervised, there were not enough workers to carry out the job safely, they didn’t have the correct equipment and they had not been properly trained. The work area was not sufficiently segregated from members of the public, and the company did not follow standard industry guidelines.
The F.A. Bartlett Tree Expert Company Limited, of High Street, Crawley, pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. They were fined a total of £24,000 and ordered to pay costs of £5,352.60.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Adam Hills said: "This was a serious incident and it is fortunate that nobody was injured as a result. The case highlights the importance of following industry guidance in order to fell trees in a manner that does not expose members of the public to unnecessary risk.
"The video footage demonstrates how quickly things can go wrong. A lack of training combined with a failure to ensure that an adequate plan of work was prepared, implemented and followed left members of the public exposed to risks that could have easily been controlled."