What Kills Tree Care DIY-ers?

A summary of 2012 fatal accidents to homeowners performing tree care.

The Tree Care Industry Association reviewed 47 tree care accidents involving civilians reported in the media in 2012. Of these, 25 were fatal. The average age of the “tree care do-it-yourselfer (DIY-er)” victim was 58. In the fatal accidents, the average age was even higher – 61.

The trade/profession of tree trimming and removal ranks as fourth or fifth most dangerous in the U.S., and that is among people who supposedly know what they are doing. That speaks to the technical difficulty and inherent risk in this type of work.

  Investigating the major causes of accidents in the graphic above a little further:

• Two-thirds of the time, the victim was struck by the tree when it fell in an unexpected direction. Directional tree felling with a chain saw requires a high level of competency and plenty of experience.

• Three homeowners were killed due to a phenomenon known as “barber chair” – that’s when forces acting on the tree cause it to split and kick back violently before it can be completely cut.

• Three DIY-ers were killed when trees or parts of trees near the one they were cutting fell on them, likely after it was struck by the cut tree.

• The thought of cutting with a chain saw from a ladder makes even a professional cringe. It’s easy to lose one’s balance, and the cut branch typically falls straight down, hitting the ladder with great force.

Let your clients know that doing things oneself can be fun, rewarding and even economically attractive. But given the risks, tree trimming and removal should be removed from the to-do list and left to the professional.

This article was published in the April 2013 Tree Care Industry magazine.  Mahalo to the Tree Care Industry Association for giving us permission to post it on our website.