A commercial landscaping firm has been fined after a sub-contractor fell and dislocated his hip while performing tree surgery.
Richard Cole Contracting hired Daniel Hunt to fell a tree that, days earlier, had lost one of its limbs. But while the 40-year-old was working on the damaged chestnut tree, another one of its limbs gave way, causing the work accident.
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Mr Hunt, from Lydney, also sustained cuts and bruising as a result of the incident in April last year in Charlton Kings, Cheltenham, where he fell a full 18 metres to the ground.
Stroud Magistrates’ Court was told that five direct employees of Mr Cole carried out groundwork while Mr Hunt worked in the tree. Mr Hunt used his own equipment for climbing the tree but an elevated work platform, chainsaws and equipment to lower parts of the tree to the ground were supplied by Mr Cole.
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that a risk assessment should have identified that a larger platform was needed to carry out the work. This would have enabled Mr Hunt to cut the tree without having to physically climb into the tree.
But because of its smaller size, Mr Hunt accessed the tree via the platform and attached himself to it using a rope and steel strap that was also connected to the platform with another rope.
As he was working on the tree, the whole of the limb he was working on fell away from the tree’s trunk, causing Mr Hunt to fall with it and the rope connecting him to the platform to snap.
The assessment was found by the HSE to have been poorly planned.
Richard Cole, trading as Richard Cole Contracting, of Longcombe in Totnes, received a fine of £2,000 and was ordered to pay £780 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching health and safety regulations.