Two men have died in separate incidents over recent months while carrying out tree work, according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
One of the men was killed on farm when he was trapped by a branch and the other was fatally injured when using a chainsaw to cut a hedge.
Both men are believed to have been self-employed workers and aged between 55 and 64 and over 65 respectively.
Tree work is common in the wider agricultural industry and being struck by a falling tree or branch is a significant cause of death and serious injury for those involved. However, the risks can be managed by following a few simple rules:
- Anyone involved in tree felling or other tree work must be suitably trained and competent for the tasks they are undertaking.
- Felling a tree is a one-person operation and no other person should be within a distance equal to twice the length of the tree being felled or directly below on steep slopes.
- Communicating safety information to everybody, including visitors, is an important part of managing health and safety.
- Everybody needs be clear on their roles and responsibilities.
Using chainsaws to carry out tree work adds a further element of risk, but this can also be managed by taking the necessary precautions.
Anyone involved in using chainsaws must be suitably trained and competent for the tasks they are undertaking and should also wear appropriate chainsaw protective clothing.
Chainsaw operators need to be trained in emergency first aid and carry an appropriate first aid kit. In particular, they must be aware of how to control major bleeding and deal with crush injuries.
Users also need to be reasonably fit, both physically and mentally, if they are to use a chainsaw safely.
All equipment used for tree work, including saws, ropes and harnesses and PPE, must be in good condition and well maintained.
Further guidance on how to safely undertake tree work can be found on the HSE website and the Forest Industry Safety Accord website. The HSE has also published a free leaflet on using chainsaws at work.