Tree surgeon sentenced after employee struck by falling branch

Workplace health & safety laws are there for a reason

Health and Safety is important in the workplace if your employer causes an accident through negligence you could be entitled to compensation

Peterborough Magistrates Court has handed down a suspended prison sentence to a tree worker after his employee was hit by a falling branch, suffering serious head injuries.

Perry Regan was working up a ladder removing branches from the tree when a large branch fell onto his employee’s head, leaving him with a fractured skull and the loss of sight in one eye.

Accidents at work do happen, and it is easy to imagine how tree surgery carries with it more risks than most occupations. Even when being careful it is impossible to remove all risk of injury, and it seems unlikely that Mr Regan didn’t care about his employee being injured.

People sometimes roll their eyes at the idea of “health and safety gone mad”, even though stories of children being banned from playing conkers, or Christmas decorations being banned from the workplace are almost always false, or due to some other reason not related to health and safety.

However, workplace health and safety laws are there for a reason, and make the UK one of the safest places to work in the world.  In general, employers aren’t expected to eliminate all risks.  Instead they are required to do whatever a reasonable employer would do. They are expected to take charge of what goes on at work and ensure it is properly planned, that people are properly trained and supervised to try to ensure they don’t do unnecessarily dangerous things, and that the workplace and the equipment that is used is suitable for the job.

Mr Regan was prosecuted not simply because an accident happened.  He was prosecuted because neither he nor his employee had proper training on how to do the job safely, protective equipment was not provided, and the way in which the work was carried out was not safe.

Mr Regan now has a criminal record, and his employee is likely to have a good (and fairly significant) claim against him for compensation for his injuries and financial losses.

If you are an employer and require advice on health and safety or other regulatory prosecution, please contact Simon Milburn.

If you have suffered an accident at work and would like advice on your rights to compensation, please contact our personal injury team.

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This article has been prepared for general interest and information purposes only; it does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on as such. While all possible care has been taken in the preparation of this article, no responsibility for the accuracy and/or correctness of the information and commentary set out in the article, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed or accepted by the firm or the authors.