Updated Feb 24, 2022

HSE warn of the risks from emergency tree work

Following the after effects of Storm Dudley, Storm Eunice and Storm Franklin, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) are reminding people that emergency tree work is dangerous and should only be undertaken by experienced professionals.

They issued a similar warning after Storm Arwen in November last year, and the HSE believes there may have been up to nine work-related fatalities involving falling trees or branches since January 2021.

Extreme weather conditions have caused problems across the country recently, with fallen trees and branches creating a lot of disruption for many communities. Emergency tree work is complex with a variety of risks, including the tree moving unexpectedly, or the need to carry out work in difficult conditions. It is crucial that the planning and activity must be carried out by a competent person with the necessary training in emergency tree works such as assisted felling, windblown and part blown trees and emergency planning.

As a result, the HSE is warning farmers and others to avoid carrying out the work themselves.

Arboriculture lead at HSE Christopher Maher said:

"While fallen trees due to adverse weather conditions can cause lots of disruption, as a result, it can be tempting to carry out emergency tree work. We want to warn people against attempting this high-risk activity. Get in professional help.

"Fallen trees can be unstable and weigh a significant amount, with inadvertent movement during clearance activities having fatal results. There are also high risks associated with the use of chainsaws and mechanised methods (the law requires a consideration of this) of removal, such as grapple saws and tree shears, are preferred.

"Please seek the services of a professional with the right training and experience to can manage the risks associated with this type of work."