According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) around 16 per cent of all reported tree work accidents involve falling from height, contributing to one of the largest causes of workplace injuries and fatalities.
At the centre of the Arboretum is a 6.3 metre metal tree – sponsored and branded The Husqvarna Tree - that allows BTS Group’s trainers to simulate the real experience of climbing and working in a tree.
The centre is based in Needham Market, near Ipswich. BTS say the only facility of its kind to offer those working within the arboriculture, horticulture and utility sectors a full-service, indoor centre to meet both its practical and academic training needs.
The training centre, which can cater for up to 95 delegates at any one time, was developed by BTS Group alongside support from the HSE as a response to feedback gained through working closely with professionals within the industry.
BTS Group Mark Poppleton said:
"In 2008/2009 there were 35 fatalities, 4,654 major injuries and a further 7,065 injuries that caused a person to be off work due to a fall from height. Although other industries may have contributed to these statistics, it is almost certainly those within the utility, arboriculture and horticulture sector who are most at risk in their daily jobs. Many of these workers do highly skilled and important jobs such as keeping vegetation clear from power lines to protect the electricity supply to homes and business. A facility that can offer effective and continual training under one roof is vital for both employee and employer."
The self-contained facility offers training in a range of technical disciplines supported by professional bodies such as; the Ladder Association, the Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) and The Prefabricated Access Suppliers' and Manufacturers' Association (PASMA), in addition to introductory or refresher training in the following areas; wood cutting, climbing, safe use of equipment, aerial rescue and branch rolling.
The centre also offers both practical and academic training support through the centre’s workshops and conferencing facilities, including the development of the first European tree worker exams due to take place at the end of the year, vegetation specimen analysis, climbing experience working at height safety with the 6.3 metre metal Husqvarna indoor training tree.
Andy Eastaugh from Husqvarna added: "BTS and Husqvarna have an established working history and many Husqvarna products will be used during training at the centre. The unique facilities and programs on offer there ensure that it will be an establishment of growth. It is for this reason that Husqvarna has decided to become a key sponsor of BTS centre as it has demonstrated all the necessary skills and experience to train future forestry and arborist professionals.
"Husqvarna recognises the dedication, excellence and foresight for growth at the BTS centre and looks forward to seeing the fruitful results of students attending the training facility."
Poppleton added: "For every task that needs to be done at height you need to assess the risk and put appropriate control measures in place, with training used as a strong foundation. The HSE champions three areas for competency; training, experience and expertise. These key focuses directly influenced the design of the BTS Arboretum. We offer almost every type of training needed for the industry in unique multi-purpose resource; we provide experience through our own expertise but to the trainees our expertise is shown through the innovations we’ve delivered to help safeguard those working in the industry."