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The Arboriculture industry statistically is one of the most dangerous professions in the world. It is imperative that the health and safety within our industry keeps evolving. It is our responsibility as Arborists to implement the safe work practices on our job sites, to wear all relevant PPE, to train apprentices and new hires in the correct way without allowing bad habits and potentially dangerous techniques.

We need to analyze our own incidents, learn from them, and figure out where mistakes were made and how the incident can be avoided/prevented in the future. We have to share these stories and experiences with our colleagues, and if possible to an even broader audience through social media and industry events.

Our goal is to create the most comprehensive 'Tree Worker incident database' that includes close calls and injuries. This database outlines the type of injury, the cause, a detailed description of the incident, factors leading to the incident and what could have been changed to avoid the injury (in the opinion of the contributor).

Date of incident08/24/2020
IncidentForearm cut with Pole Pruner
Location of incidentOakville, Ontario
Map It
Age of impacted party23
OutcomeMinor injury
Type of incident
  • Cut body part
Type of equipment involved
  • Other
Type of injury
  • Cut/Laceration
Bodily injury to
  • Upper limb
Action taken
  • First aid administered (not by medical professional)
Involvement of contributorWorker performing task
  • Sunny/mostly sunny
Causes of the incident
  • Completely unforeseeable accident
Description of incident

We left the yard after a staff meeting (about how we'd gone 280 days without an incident, ironically). I was the crew leader and driving the truck while the secondary climber was in the passenger seat. We were going walking speed out of the yard.
He was changing the pull rope on a Notch pole pruner when I heard a sudden bang and him screaming. I thought the spring had just squashed his finger and looked over and saw him half out the window and saw blood in the mirror.

As he was changing the rope on the pruner, the tail end fell out of the window and got caught under the rear wheel of the truck, which yanked the pruner head out of the window. As it did, the hook part dug into his arm and ripped across it, pulling his arm out of the window as it happened, and cracking the truck window.

Stopped truck, grabbed first aid kit and ran around to him to see a huge, deep cut in his arm. Another worker was following behind us so as I put on gloves, he grabbed the gauze and bandages from the kit. I ran some water over the wound (a lot of blood), put the gauze on and wrapped the bandage.
I told the other worker to let the boss know there was an injury and we were going to the ER. We took off in the truck which was about 7mins from the hospital. The other guy called the boss, followed us to the ER. We got out and went straight to the ER, while the other guy parked both trucks for us.

Contributing factors

Working on equipment in moving truck.

Incident review and preventative measures

We had a shop meeting the next day to discuss the incident and concluded that it is probably one of the weirdest accidents you could have in tree work and not something that is likely to be repeated. We obviously put a rule in place to not to tool maintenance in trucks.

As far as the event itself, it went as text book as possible. My First Aid training kicked in instantly and I kept my cool. I was able to pass tasks off to the other guy who handled them and was a great support. All I had to do was bandage, drive and keep the injured guy calm. The other dude did the communicating, parked the trucks and everything else. Within 2mins of the incident the boss knew where we were going. The nurses said I did a perfect job with the gauze and bandage too which was amazing to hear.
In the end the guy only sustained soft muscle damage and didn't cut any tendons or ligaments. He made a very fast and full recovery.

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