A coroner is recommending people wear hard hats when they climb ladders to prune trees, and has bought a hard hat himself, following the death of a Wanganui man.
Charles Jeffrey Jackson died of head and spinal injuries on November 12 at his home in Wanganui East after falling about a metre from the second step of a ladder.
The 72-year-old labourer had been working with a chainsaw from the ladder, cutting one of the larger trees. A rope had been secured around the branch being cut, while two other family members were putting pressure on the rope and branch.
Coroner Tim Scott said the ladder appeared to be an aluminium step ladder of good quality and in good condition. It was being used as a self-supporting step ladder at the time.
The coroner was unsure why Jackson lost his balance on the ladder and fell when he cut through the branch. He had not been hit by the branch which was pulled away.
It appeared that Jackson and other family members had acted in a careful and responsible way. Photographs showed the area where the trees were being cut was flat, the coroner said.
He believed it was relatively common for home handy people to trim trees in the way Jackson and his family had been.
"From time to time I have done similar work and I have done things in exactly the same way. I regard myself as very safety conscious," the coroner said.
In hindsight it would have been prudent for Jackson and other family members to have worn hard hats and safety goggles, although safety goggles would not have prevented the death.
"I have worn safety goggles but I have never worn a hard hat when undertaking this sort of work - but I will in the future. In fact I have now purchased one."
That observation was not a criticism of Jackson or his family.
"It is not possible to say if a hard hat would have saved Jeff (Jackson), but perhaps it might have," the coroner said.
"I suspect that many if not most home handy people who undertake this sort of work do not wear hard hats and I recommend that they do."