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AFAG Initial Notifications of Arboriculture & Forestry Fatalities

March 2022 - Fatal notification - Struck by a tree during felling - Initial notification is that a person was killed when felling a tree by chainsaw.

Key messages to promote
Being struck by a tree, or branches, during felling or other tree work is a significant cause of death and major injury in forestry, arboriculture and other land-based industries. Tree work is common, and the risks need to be managed.

  • Anyone involved in tree work, including felling, must be trained and competent for the task being done. Keep other people well away from work areas.
  • Tree work must be planned and supervised. Check trees for signs of decay and other factors that may affect felling or the work to be done. Where necessary set up exclusion zones.
  • Mechanised means of felling such as use of grapple saws, tree shears and harvesters are preferred to using chainsaws.
  • Look out for dead wood, insecure/unstable branches and broken tops in the tree to be cut, and in adjacent trees.
  • During felling, keep other people more than two tree lengths away.
  • Keep the escape route, and work area, clear of obstructions.
  • Emergency arrangements should include first aid provision and ability to quickly contact emergency services.

The HSE are sharing these notifications on a trial basis over the next 6 months. Because the incidents are under investigation exact details will not be available and will not be provided with these notifications (either because the facts haven’t’ been established or release may prejudice enquiries).

Sharing of these notifications helps to raise awareness of broad themes around risk management and promote safety messages.

These notifications should not be seen as a definitive record of the number of fatalities in any particular period or sector of industry (some fatalities may turn out to be not reportable, or be allocated to other HSE Sectors when details are fully known eg amenities). Formal figures are released annually through HSE’s ‘Fatal injuries in Great Britain’ report: Statistics - Fatal injuries in Great Britain (hse.gov.uk)

Additionally the HSE may also share relevant agricultural initial notifications when sent out to agricultural stakeholders particularly if they may be of use to the forestry / arboriculture industries, for example situations that are common to all sectors eg relevant machinery incidents, chainsaw injuries, and working at height matters.

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