NSW arborist fined $80,000 for negligence

Greta Stonehouse

A Sydney arborist has been fined $80,000 after a worker sustained permanent brain injuries while cutting down a dangerous tree.

In February 2014, Alex Grant directed a worker to climb 11 metres up an unstable dead tree with a chainsaw to cut down sections, SafeWork NSW says.

The entire tree in in Terrey Hills then toppled to the ground with the worker, who was attached to it by a climbing belt, trapped in the fall.

He suffered severe injuries including permanent and serious brain injury while another worker was lucky to escape serious harm after the tree fell on top of him, SafeWork NSW said in a statement on Wednesday.

The District Court found Grant had clear evidence showing the tree was unsafe as he had already identified a decaying root system, fungus and insect infestations.

A SafeWork NSW investigation noted that Grant had ignored safety regulations, including safely accessing the tree with a mobile crane and testing the stability of the trunk.

SafeWork NSW executive director Peter Dunphy hopes the fine sends a message as there are too many workplace accidents within the tree work industry.

"Every year, more than 150 workers are injured undertaking tree work, and last year, three workers were fatally injured," Mr Dunphy said.