Tree code will lower accidents

Fewer accidents and improved productivity emerge as targets for arboriculture code of practice.

An industry code of practice for tree work at height, currently in preparation, will reduce accidents and fatalities as well as improve the sector's productivity, framework document author Chris Cooper-Abbs has said.

"Other industries have codes of practice setting out their aims, principles and considerations," the arboricultural trainer and assessor said at the ARB Show last week (6-7 June).

"There are good-practice guides, though they were last revised in 2005, but no over-arching document linking them and outlining the overall management of the work."

The impetus for the code came out of a working group convened to revise these in 2012, he explained. So far, funding has come from City & Guilds, Stihl and the Arboricultural Association.

A series of technical guides will extend Cooper-Abbs' work into specific areas, including tree rigging, the use of cranes and mobile elevating work platforms and work in the utility arboriculture sector.

As well as clarifying terminology, the document will also allow country-specific legislation to be outlined. "We don't want this to be UK-specific but to roll it out wherever it's wanted," he said. "We can't insist that all arboricultural workers abide by it, but the Health & Safety Executive is very supportive of our approach."

Document delivery

The framework document will go live for consultation "in the next few weeks", said author Chris Cooper-Abbs, with a full launch in September. "It will likely be web-based, which makes it far easier to review and update." Technical guides will be prepared "early next year" ready for industry use later in 2015.

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