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Company fined after member of the public injured by falling branch

21 December 2017

A Bolton tree care company has been fined after a member of the public sustained serious injuries when she was struck by a large falling branch.

The 49-year-old woman from Hyde, Greater Manchester was walking along a public footpath at Johnsonbrook Road, Hyde when the incident occurred on 2 March 2017.

Gibsons Joiners and Builders Ltd trading as Gibsons Treecare was carrying out tree clearance in preparation for a new housing development at the site. An operative was removing a branch of a tree situated on the boundary; overhanging the public footpath. The member of the public who was walking along the adjacent footpath was struck by the descending branch.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that although the risks and associated control measures had been identified by Gibsons in their planning, these control measures were not actually implemented on the day. Suitable control measures would have included using a combination of cones, barriers, signs and lookouts to prevent pedestrian access at both ends of the public footpath.

Manchester Magistrates’ Court heard that as a result of the incident the injured person, who was struck on the right shoulder and back, injured her right foot and ankle in the subsequent fall and had been hospitalized for three weeks after having thirty stitches and three steel plates inserted.

Gibsons Joiners and Builders Ltd t/a Gibsons Treecare of Chorley Old Road, Bolton pleaded guilty to breaching of Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,000.

Speaking after the hearing HSE Inspector Jackie Worrall said “This case highlights the need for proper planning and the implementation of adequate control measures to ensure public protection at all times when carrying out a work activity where members of the public may be at risk. The injuries sustained by the member of the public could have been prevented if a safe system of work had been in place “.

Notes to Editors:

  1. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. We prevent work-related death, injury and ill health through regulatory actions that range from influencing behaviours across whole industry sectors through to targeted interventions on individual businesses. These activities are supported by globally recognised scientific expertise.
  2. More about the legislation referred to in this case can be found at:
  3. HSE news releases are available at

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