Narrow Escape in Tree Felling Brings $32,000 Fine

The company, the F.A. Bartlett Tree Expert Company Limited, was carrying out the job on Aug. 1, 2016, when the 82-foot poplar tree was dropped in the wrong direction, hitting two vehicles and narrowly missing two members of the public.

An English tree services company has been fined about $32,000 after an 82-foot poplar tree its employees were felling crashed down onto two cars and narrowly missed two members of the public, the Health and Safety Executive reported Dec. 7.

The company, the F.A. Bartlett Tree Expert Company Limited, was carrying out the job on Aug. 1, 2016, when the tree was dropped 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," according to the agency. Its investigators found the job was not properly planned or supervised, there were not enough workers to carry out the job safely, and the workers did not have the correct equipment and had not been properly trained. The work area was not sufficiently marked off from members of the public and the company did not follow standard industry guidelines.

The F.A. Bartlett Tree Expert Company Limited pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. It was fined a total of £24,000 and ordered to pay costs of £5,352.60 for a total of about $40,000 as a result.

"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," said HSE Inspector Adam Hills.

HSE reported that video footage of the incident showed 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."

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