Engaging arboricultural contractors safety and health awareness days

Combining machinery with work at height is a dangerous mix

Arboriculture workers can use chainsaws 50 feet or more up a tree. It's not surprising, then, that we see so many accidents.

But as with any occupation, take the proper precautions and most accidents can be avoided. That's the message we've been promoting at our Engaging Arboriculture Contractors Safety and Health Awareness Days (SHADs).

Between a half and two-thirds of accidents happen to untrained arborists

If we can raise clients' understanding of the risks and how to recognise and select competent people to do the work, that'll help raise standards and drive the poor performers to up their game or go out of business.

Here in HSE, we don't have a huge amount of practical knowledge of tree work, so we run events like this in conjunction with industry partners. We cover the regulations and what we're looking for during inspections, but most of the technical input comes from elsewhere.

All too often, clients take on a contractor and think that's where their responsibility ends. But this is far from the truth. These events aim to make attendees look more closely at the people they take on in terms of skills and competence, raise awareness of good practice, and manage their contractors accordingly. You don't have to look far to find examples of badly maintained machinery, damaged or inappropriate personal protective equipment, lack of planning, lack of training, failure to protect the public and so on. If we're to change the industry, we need informed clients who take on competent contractors. Only then will we raise standards and reduce accidents.

It's not surprising that tree surgeons have featured on BBC's Rogue Traders. There are plenty of good arborists out there, but plenty more who aren't. The hope is that these events will do much to raise standards within the industry generally.

More information on events is available.

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