Trimming trees can be dangerous for  professionals. It can be even more dangerous for homeowners trying to do the work on their own. Tree defects, weather conditions, unfamiliarity with equipment and experience all play into the hazards of trimming or removing a tree in your yard.

The Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA) conducted an analysis of 62 civilian tree care-related accidents reported by the media from January 2017 to June 2018. TCIA is a trade association that promotes professional tree care and discourages homeowners from taking unnecessary risks caring for their trees themselves.

While these numbers are not representative of all – or even most – tree care accidents involving non-professionals, they provide insight into the types of hazards homeowners are likely to encounter while attempting tree work.

The findings were grim: Forty-one of the accidents (66 percent) were fatal.

“Homeowners may not realize how dangerous tree work can be, and how much they’re risking by taking the ‘do-it-yourself’ approach,” says Peter Gerstenberger, senior advisor for safety, standards and compliance for TCIA. “Lack of training, equipment or situational awareness undoubtedly contributed to these incidents, which could have been avoided by hiring a professional tree care company.”

The median age of the victim was 43, and the oldest victim was 85. The youngest reported victim was a 2-year-old toddler who was 50 feet away when the tree his father was cutting fell the wrong way, tragically, striking and killing the child. Four of the 41 victims, including the 2-year-old, were un-involved bystanders.

Most homeowners were struck by a tree while attempting to fell it, or were hit by limbs, wires or chain saws. Others fell or were electrocuted. Chart A provides more details on the accidents.

In two-thirds of all cases where it could be determined, the victims undertook hazardous tree work with nobody to spot them, nobody to assist them and nobody to advise them when it might have been prudent to stop and seek out an expert.

What can you do?
Find a professional. A professional arborist can assess your landscape and work with you to determine the best course of action to care for and maintain the trees and shrubs in your landscape.