SafeWork NSW has issued an urgent safety plea to the tree work industry after four workers were seriously injured in one month.

The most serious incident occurred on Friday, 5 May when a 26 year old male arborist suffered fractured ribs and a collapsed lung when he fell from a fence railing while lopping at tree behind a residential property at Windale, south of Newcastle.

Other incidents include:

  • A 49-year-old male arborist suffered head injuries when he was struck by a branch while lopping at tree at a property at Kirribilli on Tuesday, 4 April.
  • A male arborist suffered lacerations to his right hand on 19 April when he slipped while pruning a tree at Darlington Point and was struck by his secateurs.
  • A 35-year-old-male arborist needed to be rescued on 24 April when he became trapped in the tree he was lopping at Mount Kuring-Gai.

Executive Director of SafeWork NSW, Peter Dunphy said that while there was a low number of incidents in the tree work industry compared to other industries, injuries were often serious and that’s why SafeWork had commenced a project to improve safety.

“Each year more than 150 workers are injured while undertaking tree work, and sadly, three workers were fatally injured last financial year,” Mr Dunphy said.

“As these incidents highlight, injuries are often serious, including head and spinal injuries and severe lacerations.

“It’s why we’ve launched a project with the tree work industry in an effort to improve safety, and I hope these incidents serve as a wake-up call to the industry that they need to be vigilant about safety at all times.”

Mr Dunphy added that SafeWork inspectors could provide support and advice to tree work businesses to help them ensure work was safe.

“This includes visiting worksites to assist with safety systems and prevent dangerous work practices,” he said.

The Focus on Industry: Tree Work project is a Commerce Regulation Program initiative led by SafeWork NSW.  It involves working with tree industry businesses across NSW over the next six months to ensure they are meeting work health and safety, and workers compensation responsibilities. It will also help consumers to select reputable businesses.

The project is a joint initiative of SafeWork NSW, NSW Fair Trading and the State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA) in partnership with TAFE NSW, Arboriculture Australia, Tree Contractors Association of Australia, Cancer Council NSW and the Office of the Small Business Commissioner.

For information on working safely with trees or how to select a qualified tree work business, visit the SafeWork NSW website or www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au .For further advice and assistance call 13 10 50.

Footage of tree work business, Tree Serve and news grabs of their Contracts Manager, Rob Fisher and SafeWork NSW, Director Operational Capability, Jodie Deakes can be viewed here: https://vimeo.com/207576593

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