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Wind in the willows - public urged to use specialists to make damaged trees safe

[Monday 22 January 2007]

IN common with much of the UK, residents of the Yorkshire Dales have endured some extremely high winds over the last few days, and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is now urging members of the public to use professionals when having work done to wind-damaged trees.

The simple message is that doing things on the cheap could result in a much higher price being paid

Frances Hirst - HSE

Tree specialists - called aboriculturists - must adhere to certain safety standards when carrying out the work which is invariably hazardous as it involves working at height, use of cutting equipment and the probability of heavy falling objects.

Frances Hirst from HSE's Agriculture and Food Sector said: "Tree work is dangerous work, and members of the public who hire individuals or companies to carry out work can rightly expect this work to be carried out in a safe professional manner.

"However, there are quite of lot of 'handy' people out there who charge a lot of money to carry out tree work without taking the legally required precautions to safeguard their own and others' health and safety. They could be putting lives in danger."

Precautions that should be taken include:

  • Ensuring chainsaw operators are trained and wear protective clothing including chainsaw trousers, boots and eye protection.

  • Ensuring members of the public are segregated from the areas where branches and other material may be falling.

France Hirst added: "Another problem that many overlook is the proximity of electricity lines running close to trees, which are sometimes confused for telephone lines. This adds another danger element to what is already a dangerous occupation.

"The simple message is that doing things on the cheap could result in a much higher price being paid."

Members of the public who are concerned about the health and safety standards of contractors undertaking tree work can make reports to the Health and Safety Executive. They are asked to provide photographic evidence where possible as well as the name and contact details of the contractor concerned.

Further guidance on tree work for both contractors and members of the public is available on the HSE website at www.hse.gov.uk/agriculture/information.htm or from HSE Infoline on 0845 345 0055

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