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No.8  Risk Assessment

 

Ideally an on-site risk assessment must be filled out before each job.  

Many working arborists balk at this idea, they see it as a time-wasting exercise, thinking it much better to get on with the job and hope that nothing will happen.  

I couldn't disagree more and for two main reasons. 

 

The first is that when acting as site foreman there is no way that I can face up to the responsibility of having no risk abatement or emergency procedures.  

This is not about liability, simply a human urge to look after those that are working a dangerous and potentially fatal job. 

 

The second works in a more commercial sense as looking for risks can be intertwined with job logistics.

 

This Risk Chart is very easy to understand and can be applied to all work scenarios.

Lets imagine that we have to remove dead wood from a large kusunoki.  

3/4's of the tree's crown is over a wooded area and this happens to be where most of the dead wood can be seen (when looking from the ground) and we can see one piece in the remaining 1/4 that stretches over a quiet footpath.  

The tree is situated 1 km from our vehicle and it is the height of summer.  

The tree is approximately 25m tall.  

A number of questions come up, some generic and some site specific.

The rescue scenario seems to warrant 4x4 access or a helicopter but what is the likelihood of a climber injury in a simple deadwood.  

We can see our tie in point clearly and it looks healthy and the climb is straight forward but it is very hot and we need to use a chainsaw as the deadwood is over 20mm.  

The job has been priced well and we have time to rest for water during the climb.  

I would score this as a 2 on the vertical side of the chart.  

Seeing that we have enough time for breaks the climber will wear chainsaw protection which lowers the severity of a leg cut to a 3 on the horizontal side of the chart.  

Joining them together we get a reading of 5 which is in the low risk category.  

The footpath is quiet but there may be hikers at some point.  

I would score this as a 3 on both the vertical and horizontal side which gives a 9 as we join them up.  

9 is in the medium category so we decide that the groundsman will wear a hi-visibility vest and that there will be constant communication between the climber and groundsman when wood is being dropped onto the path.

Knowing all this at the start of the day will get your team going in the right way.  

Problems arise inevitably with tree work and the risk assessment and work procedure can be updated to accommodate all changes. 

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