Handyman Injured After Chopping Down Branch He Leaned His Ladder Against

(Telegraph) – A HANDYMAN who was injured in a “Laurel and Hardy moment” after propping his ladder against the tree branch he then sawed off is suing his employers.

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.

Now Mr Aspinall, who had worked at the Egerton House Hotel near Bolton, Lancashire, for just two weeks, is suing them for compensation.

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.

Nicola Raby, prosecuting for Bolton Council, told the court that the accident happened on July 18, 2008 when Mr Aspinall was helping gardener Alan Ashworth remove the branch because it was shading the lawn.

The men placed their ladder against the branch and Mr Ashworth held the bottom of it while Mr Aspinall climbed up with a bow saw to chop it down.

They did not realise their mistake until the branch finally snapped and Mr Aspinall fell to the ground.

David Walton, mitigating, said the hotel owner, Jan Hampton, was not on the premises at the time and would have ensured the task was carried out by specialist tree surgeons if she had been.

”They proceeded to cut the branch that the ladder was leaning against. It is an unusual accident. Laurel and Hardy do this sort of thing,” he said.

He added that Mr Ashworth was embarrassed and sorry that the accident had happened.

”He knows he ought to have tied the ladder to the trunk of the tree and not the branch to be cut,” said Mr Walton.

The court also heard that Mr Aspinall is now pursuing a civil claim for his injuries.

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.

One Response

  1. What? WHAT?!

    So there were two men doing this. The idiot who cut the branch, and the idiot who held the ladder? And neither of them noticed the ladder was leaning against the branch being cut?

    Why would you need a risk assessment for common sense?

    Ah yes, just in case you get two idiots chopping down a branch!


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