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Dangers of emergency tree work

HSE e-Bulletin – Issued 14 December 2021

Fallen trees and branches have caused a lot of disruption, but it’s important to remember that emergency tree work is dangerous and should only be undertaken by experienced professionals.

Extreme weather conditions have caused problems across the country in the last few weeks, with many communities still living with the aftereffects of Storm Arwen and Storm Barra.

In the past 12 months eight people have been killed by falling branches or trees.

Emergency tree work is complex with many risks, including the tree moving unexpectedly, or the need to carry out work in difficult conditions.

The planning and activity itself must be undertaken by a competent person with the necessary training in emergency tree works such as assisted felling, windblown and part blown trees and emergency planning.

HSE is warning farmers to avoid carrying out the work themselves without the necessary experience.

Arboriculture lead at HSE Christopher Maher said: “While fallen trees due to adverse weather conditions can cause lots of disruption and it can be tempting to carry out emergency tree work, we want to warn people against attempting this high-risk activity.

“Fallen trees can be unstable and weigh a significant amount, with inadvertent movement having fatal results. There are also high risks associated with the use of chainsaws and mechanised methods of removal, such as grapple saws and tree shears, are preferred. See FISA's latest Arwen news item and their grapple saw and tree shears safety guide for more details. 

“Please seek the services of a competent professional who can manage the risks associated with this type of work.” 

For more information and guidance on carrying out tree work safely please visit the HSE website.

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