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Kent Tree Surgeon Fined Over Worker's Injuries

A Kent-based tree surgeon has been fined after an employee suffered severe injuries when his trouser leg was caught in a tree stump grinder.

Davyd Dyer, 30, suffered terrible injuries to his right leg when his employer, Richard Curteis, left the machine running without being at the controls. Mr Curteis, trading as Aspen Tree Services, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) over the incident on 29 September 2010.

Maidstone Magistrates Court heard the men were at an address in Bearsted, Maidstone, removing around six tree stumps of old conifers using a stump grinder.

Mr Dyer, from Gravesend, walked in front of the unmanned stump grinder carrying a sheet of corrugated metal. His trousers got caught on the rotating cutting head of the stump grinder and pulled his leg into the moving parts of the machine.

He suffered a broken leg, severe muscle injuries and was hospitalised for several weeks, needing a number of operations to reconstruct his leg. His injuries mean it is uncertain whether he will be able to continue working as a tree surgeon.

The HSE investigation found Mr Curteis left the machine running while not at the controls, did not have suitable training in the safe use of the machine, and did not follow a safe method of work.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Paul Vinnicombe said:

"The serious injuries sustained by Mr Dyer show how hazardous the equipment used in the tree surgery profession can be, and the life-changing effects that an injury can have.

"All those involved in tree work and grounds maintenance must ensure they have received the relevant training in the safe use of their equipment and remain vigilant when using it."

Richard Curteis of Wierton Hall Farm, East Hall Mill, Broughton Monchelsea in Maidstone, Kent, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. He was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £3,679.

Section 3(2) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states: "It shall be the duty of every self-employed person to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that he and other persons (not being his employees) who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety".

For further information about safety in the tree-working industry, go to: http://www.hse.gov.uk/treework/index.htm

Source: Landscape Juice - Kent Tree Surgeon Fined Over Worker's Injuries