Risk of Trees causing Harm or Injury


Many people consider trees to be a major hazard and to pose a significant risk of harm or injury. The actual risk of an injury being caused by a tree or part of a tree is very low in reality and very low compared to other risks encountered in ‘normal or daily life’.

Fatal injuries caused by Trees

 The most up to date research shows there were 64 fatalities in the UK resulting from trees or parts of trees failing between January 1999 and January 2009, an average of 6.4 fatalities per year.

Accidents at work account for 144 fatalities a year and accidents at home account for 3,380 fatalities a year. In other words, you are 50 times more likely to be fatally injured at home than you are to be fatally injured by a tree.

Non-Fatal injuries caused by Trees

 The number of A&E cases in the UK attributable to being struck by trees or parts of trees is around 55 a year out of a total of some 2.9 million annual leisure-related A&E cases.

Footballs account for 262,000 cases per year, children’s swings account for 10,900 per year and wheelie bins account for 2,200 cases per year.

Risk of Fatal Injury caused by Trees

 The annual risk to any one individual of being killed by a tree is 1:10,000,000 (i.e. 6 deaths per 60 million head of population)

The HSE state that people regard a risk of ‘one death in a million’ as insignificant or trivial in their ‘daily or normal life’.

The individual risk of death caused by trees is one tenth or ten times lower than the risk people accept as being insignificant or trivial in their ‘daily or normal life’.

Fatalities in ‘normal or daily life’

 The following table compares the calculated risks that are experienced in ‘daily or normal life’.

Causes of death Annual risk Annual number of fatalities
Accidents at home, all ages (1) 1 in 17,000 3,380
Road traffic accidents (2) 1 in 37,000 1,713
Murder (3) 1 in 91,000 726
Accidents at work (4) 1 in 458,000 144
Insignificant or trivial risk (HSE definition) 1 in 1,000,000 n/a
Trees (5) 1 in 10,000,000 6.5
Lightning (6) 1 in 33,000,000 2


(1)      Office for National Statistics Mortality Statistics – Injury and poisoning

(2)      Department for Transport Road Casualties Great Britain: 2013

(3)    Year ending March 2018 – Office for National Statistics

(4)      Health and Safety Executive – Fatal Injuries in Great Britain 2017/18

(5)      Centre for Decision Analysis and Risk Management

(6)      Lightning deaths in the United Kingdom: a 30-year analysis…. D. M. Elsom