In June a 31-year-old Log Cabin man was killed while working with a crew cutting down a tree. The tree Filipe Wilbanks was working on County Road 1400 snapped, causing part of it to fall back in his direction. Wilbanks was pinned beneath a heavy branch.
The Three Care Industry Association of America reports that accidents like the one in Henderson County serve as a stark reminder of the dangers of tree care. The Association stresses the need for tree care companies, along with homeowners/property managers who hire them to uphold the highest standards for worker safety.
“Unfortunately for the industry overall, serious accidents seem to be increasing," says Peter Gerstenberger, arborist for the TCIA. "We need to transform the industry and create a safety culture that will keep all tree workers safe in an inherently hazardous occupation."
Although fatalities in tree related accidents are less common, records show that several injuries to Henderson County residents climbing or cutting down trees are reported each year.
“As this accident demonstrates, pruning large limbs, felling trees and especially climbing into trees are hazardous activities even for trained professionals,” Gerstenberger said.
In December 2011, an 18-year-old was struck by a tree he was cutting down on County Road 1307 near Malakoff. The man was flown to Tyler for treatment for head injuries.
To help prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future, the TCIA says homeowners looking for tree care companies should:
• Hire a qualified tree care company. Find one at www.treecaretips.org.
• Ask for current certificates of liability and workers' compensation insurance, if applicable.
• Ask for local references, and check on the quality of their work and level of service.
• Verify professional affiliations the company might have, such as memberships in business and/or professional organizations, or Accreditation with the Tree Care Industry Association.
• Insist on a signed contract as to cost, dates when work is to be performed, and exactly what is to be done.
• Get a second opinion and quote.