Risk of Trees Causing Injury or Death

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 compared to other risks encountered in 'daily or normal life'.


Fatal Injuries Caused by Trees

Research shows there were 64 fatalities in the UK resulting from trees or the failure of parts of trees, between January 1999 and January 2009. That's an average of 6 fatalities per year.

In 2010, there were 1,857 fatalities on British roads.


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 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 'Daily or Normal Life'

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

Annual risk of death Annual risk Annual risk per million
All causes, aged 45-64
(England and Wales, 2003) (1)
1 in 190 5263
All causes, aged 30-44
(England and Wales, 2003) (1)
1 in 940 1064
Accidents in the home, all ages
(England and Wales, 2004) (3)
1 in 17,000 59
Road accidents
(Great Britain, 2010) (2)

1 in 32,000

Injuries to all employees in different industries
(Great Britain, average 2001/02-2005/06) (4)


1 in 140,000



Insignificant or Trivial Risk (HSE) 1 in 1,000,000 1
Trees 1 in 10,000,000 0.1
Lightning (5) 1 in 19,000,000 0.05
  • Office for National Statistics Focus on Health
  • Department for Transport Road Casualties Great Britain: 2010
  • Office for National Statistics Mortality Statistics – Injury and poisoning
  • Health and Safety Commission Statistics of Fatal Injuries 2005/06
  • Deaths and injuries caused by lightning in the United Kingdom: analyses of two databases, D M Elsom, Tornado and Storm Research Organisation, 2000

Additional Reference: National Tree Safety Group-Common sense risk management of trees