I am by no means an expert on cutting down trees. If you hand me a chainsaw, I am far more likely to injure myself than any wood in my immediate area. But if the people from Ax Men kidnapped me and forced me to chop my way out of their trailer park hideout, there are some basic mistakes I’d avoid.
First and foremost, I wouldn’t cut down anything I was leaning on at the time I started chopping. You don’t need to be a lumberjack in order to understand Newtonian physics. That knowledge puts me way ahead of an Englishman named Peter Aspinall. The Telegraph reports:
Peter Aspinall, 64, had been asked to prune a sycamore tree in the grounds of a hotel, but instead of leaning his ladder against the trunk he placed it against the branch he was hacking down.
When the branch fell it took Mr Aspinall with it, 14ft to the ground below. He broke his heel, damaged his ligaments and had to spend ten days in hospital recovering from surgery on his injuries.
When I first read the lede of the story, I thought the tipster sent it to me as another candidate for a Drinking Ban Order. But no, having been injured by his own amazing stupidity, Aspinall decided he needed to sue somebody.
His target: the employer who asked him to cut down the branch in the first place…
British health and safety inspectors fined the Egerton House Hotel for not giving Aspinall a remedial lesson in gravity. And that emboldened Aspinall to seek civil damages against his employer:
He took the action after health and safety inspectors concluded the hotel failed to carry out a risk assessment on the dangers of pruning.
They also said that his employer should have given him training on where to place the ladder.
The hotel owners have now been fined £1,000 and ordered to pay £1,000 council costs and a £15 victim surcharge by magistrates in Bolton after pleading guilty to health and safety breaches.
Training on where to place the ladder wouldn’t have helped this guy. Training on how to not chop down his own ladder is what this guy needed. And I think that’s a lesson you’re supposed to learn by the age of six, not 64.
In response, the hotel owner, Jan Hampton, issued a statement I can barely comprehend:
Ms Hampton, said she was proud of the hotel’s health and safety record and standards of customer care.
”Action has been taken to ensure that this could not happen again,” she said.
Is Ms. Hampton now committed to hiring only 14-foot-tall branch cutters, so falling will not be an option? What actions can ensure that a man will never cut off a branch that he is leaning on?