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Tree Work And Covid-19

How Can Businesses Minimise Risks?

The COVID-19 pandemic has in short time impacted operations in Australian workplaces of all types, with industries around the country needing to adapt in the face of the risks posed, and take adequate measures to prevent the spread of infection.

The arboriculture sector is, of course, no different, and businesses need to be aware of the range of actions that can be taken, and also be prepared to take a proactive approach when it comes to adapting these actions to specific business activities.

In this respect, it is important for business owners and managers to keep up to date with the latest advice and guidelines, to adapt workplace activities accordingly and establish open communication in workplaces.

What Actions Can Businesses Take?

The circumstances surrounding individual workplaces and project sites, and the type of work being undertaken, will contribute to determining the types of measures necessary to address the threat and limit the spread of COVID-19.

Working from home has been put forward as an option where possible, however this is simply not possible for many occupations, and businesses are in turn being advised to implement a variety of measures.

Safe Work Australia (SWA)

Advises that in keeping workers safe and limiting the spread of COVID-19, businesses should undertake the following:

  • Physical Distancing

Keeping a distance of at least 1.5 m between people

  • Hand Washing

Encouraging workers to frequently wash their hands, doing so for at least 20 seconds, using soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitiser, practising good hygiene

  • COVID-19 Symptoms

Be aware of how to spot symptoms, such as fever, cough, sore throat and shortness of breath, making sure workers who are unwell do not come to work

  • Regular Cleaning

Regularly clean and disinfect workplaces

  • Signs and Posters

Reminding workers and others of COVID-19 risks and measures necessary to stop its spread.

In the context of individual arborist operations, it is worthwhile looking at procedures for cleaning vehicles and machinery, wiping used with guidelines, having hand sanitiser on hand, and posting reminders on equipment where appropriate.

Crew management should also be a strong focus, considering how staff interact over the course of daily operations, and making modifications as required, such as limiting the number of staff using particular vehicles and machinery.

Across both large and small teams, openly communicating and consulting with staff is a critical component in establishing and refining this process over time.

Leading the Way

Monitor expert advice Of course, it is important for business owners and managers to regularly access the latest expert advice, keeping tabs on federal, state and local information.

Business owners and managers will need to weigh up their own individual circumstances, proactively exploring the conditions at their workplace, in determining the range of measures that need to be taken, seeking to prevent or minimise the spread of COVID-19.

As a means of supporting these measures, it could also well be worthwhile setting out business policies in writing.

Information on the measure’s businesses can take can be found at the SWA website:

July 9, 2020 / by / in ,
What Are You Lifting?

Following correct lifting techniques will help prevent injury so you can function at your best.

When lifting, we’ve all heard the words: “Bend with your knees!” This is correct, but it’s not the only way to help prevent injury to your back and spine when lifting. Lifting injuries are a common cause of back pain. However, you can protect yourself against damage with good lifting habits.

When you lift, your spine is put under stress. Twisting or jerking while lifting and carrying can injure the small joints of the spine. The discs that separate the vertebrae (spinal bones) and the ligaments, which hold the vertebrae together, are also at risk. The discs are composed of a jelly-like core, surrounded by a strong fibrous ring. With repeated and unsafe lifting, the fibrous ring or its supporting ligaments may tear or rupture. This is commonly known as a disc bulge or herniation.

Lifting while bent forward will increase the stress on your spine. Contributing to this stress are factors like the weight of the load, how far it is held from your body, how often and how fast you lift, and how long you hold the load.

To protect your spine from injury, always attempt to take the following steps:

  1. Get a firm footing with your feet apart for a stable base
  2. Bend your hips and knees instead of bending at the waist. This allows the leg muscles to take the load and not the spine
  3. Tighten your abdominal muscles. Abdominal muscles support the spine when lifting
  4. Ensure you have a strong grip and the load is as close to you as possible
  5. The closer it is to your spine the less force it exerts on your back
  6. Brace yourself for the lift but continue to breathe normally through the lift
  7. Lift steadily and do not jerk the load. Look straight ahead, not down
  8. Keep your back straight and avoid twisting or bending to the side
  9. To lower the object, place your feet as you did to lift, tighten stomach muscles and bend your hips and knees
  10. The most dangerous position for your lower back is the combination of forward bending and twisting – this should be avoided at all costs. Reaching for things above shoulder level is another strenuous activity for your back

Recent studies suggest that the back is especially vulnerable to injury immediately following a period of prolonged forward bending or inactivity like sitting for several minutes or sleeping. In fact, the most significant injury predictor is not the task, but in the activities you have performed over the days and minutes prior! Following times of inactivity, a warm-up should be performed before attempting to lift anything, and even then remember to pay extra-special attention to using correct lifting technique. Furthermore, you should never lift anything shortly after rising from bed.

If you have gotten an injury from lifting, or you do a lot of lifting in your day, this can put stress on your back and may cause a misalignment in your spine. This misalignment is called subluxation and prevents you from functioning at your best. The best thing to do is have a thorough spinal check-up by a corrective chiropractor.

If you would like more information, contact the team at Chiropractic Central on (02) 9418 9031 or email them at [email protected]

May 24, 2020 / by / in ,
EWPS: Planning To Help Manage Risks

Working at heights comes with the territory for arborists, and when using an elevated work platform (EWP) it is essential to plan ahead and routinely observe a range of steps in seeking to manage risks.

Of course, given the risks associated with working at heights, it is important to have the right qualifications and proper training for operating an EWP, encompassing a thorough understanding of operational requirements and safety features.

Safe Work Australia (SWA) notes in its Guide to Managing Risks of Tree Trimming and Removal Work that the common hazards and risks of using an EWP for tree trimming and removal work include:

  • Coming into contact with overhead electric lines and adjacent structures
  • Windy conditions
  • Falls from height
  • Unstable, sloping, uneven or soft ground, such as recently filled excavations, that could lead to the EWP overturning
  • Being struck by falling objects
  • Wildlife-related injuries, such as from wasps, bees, birds and possums

The risks involved need to be properly assessed, and it is important to weigh up a range of factors before commencing operations.

Access: Assessing What’s Required

In determining how a tree should be accessed, a thorough assessment of the work that needs to be undertaken should be carried out, which will encompass the suitability of using an EWP.

SWA advises that, where reasonably practicable, EWPs specifically designed to lift people should be used to access a tree, being able to minimise climbing-associated hazards such as dehydration and fatigue, having been designed as a working platform to prevent the worker from falling.

In deciding whether to utilise an EWP to trim or remove a tree, SWA recommends considering:

  • Is trimming or removing the tree from the ground safer?
  • Are there obstacles present (such as buildings or other trees) that will pose a risk to health and safety, or make access impossible using an EWP?
  • Are underground services present (such as water, gas, telephone and electricity services) that may restrict access or locations to set up temporary platforms?
  • Do overhead electric lines create worker risk due to the EWP’s position?
  • Is the ground level, uneven, sloping, firm or loose, and could this result in the EWP overturning?
  • Can the EWP safely reach the required height?
  • Will the worker need to lean outside the EWP’s structure?
  • Will cutting or lowering of the tree limb, branch or section be impeded by the use of the EWP?

Of course, comprehensive planning and preparation, assessing the unique requirements of each individual project, is critical and will play a key role in determining which type of EWP should be utilised.

Matching The Right Machine To The Task

Across the range of EWPs, from trailer and vehicle-mounted EWPs, to self-propelled EWPs, decked out with booms of varying types and lengths, it is important to match the right machine to the task.

In choosing the type of EWP to use, SWA notes that in addition to determining the sort of work that will be undertaken, ground and weather conditions should be considered, along with the height, reach and lifting capacity required, access limitations and number of workers needed on the EWP.

Of course, along with undertaking thorough planning and preparation, it is important to seek out additional advice when required, particularly so when in doubt about any aspect of using an EWP.

The Guide to Managing Risks of Tree Trimming and Removal Work can be found at the Safe Work Australia website: www.

In our next instalment in this series we will talk to the professionals in the industry about the importance of proper protective gear.

May 17, 2020 / by / in ,
Know The Risks Of Working In Heat

SafeWork Australia has release a warning about the hazard of working in heat as it can cause harm to workers in both indoor and outdoor work environments.

According to SafeWork Australia, in the last 10 years from 2008-09 to 2017-18, there were 1,360 workers’ compensation claims resulting from working in heat.

1,235 of these claims were from working in the sun:

  • 750 of these claims were cancer-related
  • 140 of these were claims regarding heat stroke or heat stress

85 of these claims were from working in hot indoor conditions – 40 of these were claims regarding heat stroke or heat stress.

We are reminded that employers have duties under work health and safety laws to manage the risks of working in heat and protect worker health and safety.

WorkSafe Queensland advises that heat stress risk isn’t solely related to temperature. There’s a combination of factors which contribute to heat-related problems at work, including:

  • Exposure to direct sunlight, especially during the hottest part of the day
  • Carrying out strenuous tasks or work for sustained long periods
  • Exposure to additional heat from machinery
  • Inadequate cooling off, rest periods or insufficient water consumption
  • Climatic conditions (low air movement, high humidity, high temperature)
  • Inappropriate clothing
  • Factors that may cause dehydration such as poor diet, vomiting, diarrhoea or alcohol and caffeine consumption

Employers and workers in Queesland can refer to a Heat Stress (Basic) Calculator tool made available by the Queensland Government as a basic guide to manage risk while working in heat. Check out the Heat Stress Calculator at fswqap.worksafe.

For information on how to identify and address heat-related hazards, employers can refer to the Guide for managing the risks of working in heat available at www.

You can also download the SafeWork infographic ‘Working in heat’ from the website and share it at your workplace or contact your regulator for further information at www.

March 24, 2020 / by / in ,
Health & Safety Policy For Small Businesses

The importance of preparing a written Health and Safety Policy.

The arboriculture industry typically features prominently when it comes to discussions about dangerous occupations, with a variety of risks needing to be managed from one job to the next, and it is important for small businesses to have clear health and safety policies and procedures in place.

As previously noted in this series, Safe Work Australia (SWA) points to a range of hazards associated with tree trimming and removal work, from the potential to slip, trip and fall, to the dangers of falling objects, such as branches or felled trees.

Highlighting the risks workers face, SWA figures show that from 2010 to 2014 there were 33 workers killed by falling vegetation, mainly trees, accounting for 3 per cent of all worker fatalities for that period.

Given the hazards regularly involved with arboriculture work, businesses should carefully consider health and safety management, and preparing a written health and safety policy serves to underpin a business’ safety approach.

The Purpose Of A Written Health And Safety Policy

Ken Hocking, Timber Trade Industrial Association Safety Manager, points to the importance of having a documented safety policy as part of a company’s safety management system.

“The safety policy will outline the company’s overall approach and commitment, together with the provisions you have put in place for dealing with health and safety in your business,” Ken told AA.

“Its purpose is to highlight the company’s commitment to work health and safety, and the safety responsibilities of everyone in the workplace.”

Ken explained that dedicating time to communicating and implementing a policy demonstrates the seriousness with which a company takes its health and safety obligations. He additionally noted that portraying the importance of safety in a policy will see workers “want to work in a safe manner and fulfil their own safety responsibilities”.

“When a business seriously takes into a certain amount of trustworthiness that the company gains,” he commented.

“This helps create a relaxed and easy environment amongst workers, as they know they are well looked after, which can result in higher retention rates and increased productivity.”

What Should A Health And Safety Policy Cover?

When it comes to putting together a written policy, Ken advises that it should cover the following areas:

  • The company’s commitment to WHS
  • Management’s WHS responsibilities
  • The supervisor or foreman’s WHS responsibilities
  • Workers’ WHS responsibilities
  • How the policy will be implemented in the company
  • How the policy will be communicated throughout the company
  • The date of the policy
  • The signature of the highest level of management

Ken additionally points to the following areas of focus for the arboriculture industry when documenting a policy:

  • WHS risk assessment – hazard identification, assessment and control
  • WHS consultation – safety meetings
  • Training – induction and safety operating procedure training
  • Incident reporting and identification

When it comes to reviewing a company’s policy, Ken told AA that this should be undertaken “every 12 months to ensure it is being effectively implemented by the company, its managers, supervisors and workers”.

Of course, when in doubt about WHS issues, it is important to seek out additional advice, including consulting with the relevant state or territory WHS regulator for further information.

March 23, 2020 / by / in ,
Meeting Your Health Duties

Safe Work Australia has released new guidance on work-related psychological health and safety.

Work-related mental health conditions (also known as psychological injuries) have become a major concern in Australian workplaces due to the negative impact on individual employees, and the costs associated with the long periods away from work that are typical of these claims.


Each year 7,200 Australians are compensated for work-related mental health conditions, equating to around 6 per cent of workers’ compensation claims, and approximately $543 million is paid in workers’ compensation for work-related mental health conditions.

Safe Work Australia has released guidance material to help small business owners or operators understand their role as officers and their responsibilities under WHS laws.


“If you make or influence the significant financial or operational decisions for a business then you may be an ‘officer’ under WHS laws”, said Safe Work Australia’s CEO Michelle Baxter.

“As an officer, you have a duty under WHS laws to look for ways to lead on WHS matters.”

“Our new guidance material includes videos of real officers explaining how they fulfil this important role within their business,” said Ms Baxter.

Safe Work Australia produced the guidance material after investigations found that small businesses needed more practical guidance about their WHS obligations.


The guidance material, including short videos, is available on a dedicated web page for officers – topic/officer-duty

A broader guide for officers of businesses of all sizes is also available.

Find the Guide Work-related psychological health and safety at

For more information visit

February 20, 2020 / by / in ,
Working In The Heat: What To Be Aware Of

With the summer months now upon us, it is vitally important to pay particular attention to managing the risks associated with working in the heat, from taking preventative measures to being prepared to administer first aid if required.

The risks associated with physically demanding activities undertaken outdoors can be amplified when working in the heat – and, from climbing trees to tree felling to operating equipment such as wood chippers, stump grinders and chainsaws, vigilance is required.

In its Managing the risks of working in heat guide, Safe Work Australia notes that common effects of working in the heat include: heat rash, heat cramps, fainting, dehydration, heat exhaustion, heat stroke, burns, slips, reduced concentration and increased chemical uptake into the body.

Managing Risk

Of course, preparation is critical in contributing to safe working operations – and, according to the manner of work being undertaken, from operating machinery to manually pruning and trimming, there are a number of factors to take into account when working in the heat.

The Safe Work Australia guide advises that, as far as reasonably practicable, the following steps should be observed in managing risks:

  • Identify the hazard – to determine if heat is a hazard, consider: air temperature, air flow, humidity, radiant heat sources, work requirements and the workplace itself, canvassing a range of relevant opinions, from workers to other businesses
  • Assess the risk – helping to determine how severe the risk is, whether existing control measures are effective, what action should be taken to control the risk and how urgently it needs to be taken. In assessing the risk, the hazard’s impact and likelihood of causing harm should be considered
  • Control the risk – do everything reasonably practicable to eliminate risks (and, if not, minimise risks), such as cancelling certain tasks or rescheduling activities for cooler times of the day
  • Review the control measures – ensuring that they are working as planned and are not introducing new, uncontrolled risks

The guide also provides a rundown of the symptoms and first aid treatment for common heat-related illnesses – and, of course, having the appropriate equipment on hand and knowing what steps to take is extremely important.

It is certainly worthwhile consulting the guide for specific information on each of these steps, and to consider how they apply to specific sites and projects, with the guide available at the Safe Work Australia website:

Use The Tools At Your Disposal

Every site and project is different, and it is important to use the range of tools at your disposal and to assess specific circumstances in determining how much of a factor heat will be, and to then take the appropriate steps.

For instance, consulting short and long-term weather forecasts can help you to plan ahead, assisting in potentially scheduling more intense manual labour for cooler times of the day and incorporating regular breaks.

Meanwhile, in extreme conditions it may be better for more experienced staff to tackle demanding tasks that require greater concentration, and to opt for machine solutions instead of physically demanding manual labour where feasible

In determining how to manage risks, it is important to maintain open communication, assessing conditions on an ongoing basis, and it is certainly worthwhile consulting the range of consultation and risk management materials available at the Safe Work Australia website.

In our next instalment in this series we will look at the importance of preparing a Health and Safety Policy for a small business and the risks of being non-compliant.

December 29, 2019 / by / in , ,
National Safe Work Month

In this new series we will explore a range of health and safety issues, looking at how those within the arb industry can create and maintain a healthy and safe work environment.

October is National Safe Work Month, making it an ideal time to highlight the responsibilities everyone within our industry has in promoting best practices and maintaining a healthy and safe work environment.

This year’s theme, “Be a Safety Champion”, highlights the all-encompassing nature of work health and safety, with everyone, both employers and workers, able to do their bit to support safety culture.

“We all have a responsibility and duty for building a safe and healthy workplace so we can get home safe to our families,” Safe Work Australia states via its website.

“Anyone can be a safety champion and promote best practice work health and safety initiatives at work.”

Of course, the arboriculture industry faces inherent challenges across a range of activities, and it is the responsibility of those within industry to take the appropriate measures in managing risks.

Industry Risk Factors

Safe Work Australia classifies tree trimming and removal work as including “lopping, pruning, trimming, repairing, maintaining and removing amenity trees, as well as wood chipping and stump grinding operations”.

Across this scope of activities, it notes that hazards for workers include:

  • Slips, trips, and falls
  • Manual tasks such as lifting and holding machinery
  • Punctures and cuts from branche
  • Falling objects such as branches or felled trees

The potential injuries that may result from undertaking this work range from small cuts to more serious trauma, while fatalities can occur in some cases

Safe Work Australia figures show that from 2010 to 2014 there were 33 workers killed by falling vegetation, mainly trees, which accounted for 3 per cent of all worker fatalities for that period

Managing Risks

Safe Work Australia has previously published a guide on managing the risks associated with tree trimming and removal work, designed to help a range of professions involved in the industry.

Developed in collaboration with industry experts, Safe Work Australia states the guide “provides information on the duties of employers and workers and how they can safely approach and conduct work on trees”.

The Guide Includes Information Related To:

  • Ground work – including methods for worksite communication
  • Methods for accessing trees – including elevating work platforms and climbing
  • Working near overhead electric lines – assessing the risks involved
  • Machinery and equipment – including wood chippers, stump grinders, chainsaws, pole saws and powered
  • Hedge trimmers
  • Tree felling – including felling with chainsaws, clear-felling, controlled directional felling and sectional felling

It Additionally Includes Information On Rescue And Emergency Planning, Emergency Procedures And Ensuring Workers Are Adequately Trained In These Procedures

Further information on National Safe Work Month and the guide can be found at the Safe Work Australia website:

Summer will soon be upon us, and in our next instalment in this series we will look at the hazards of working in the heat and the steps that can be taken to manage risks.

November 21, 2019 / by / in , ,
WHS Laws

You may be an officer and have an important duty under WHS laws.

Safe Work Australia has released guidance material to help small business owners or operators understand their role as officers and their responsibilities under WHS laws.

“If you make or influence the significant financial or operational decisions for a business then you may be an ‘officer’ under WHS laws”, said Safe Work Australia’s CEO Michelle Baxter.

“As an officer, you have a duty under WHS laws to look for ways to lead on WHS matters.”

“Our new guidance material includes videos of real officers explaining how they fulfil this important role within their business,” said Ms Baxter.

Safe Work Australia produced the guidance material after investigations found that small businesses needed more practical guidance about their WHS obligations.

The guidance material, including short videos, is available on a dedicated web page for officers – www.safeworkaustralia.

A broader guide for officers of businesses of all sizes is also available.

For more information visit

Look up further info about WHS Laws at

October 27, 2019 / by / in , ,
Don’t Get Caught

When was the last time you caught your hand or finger on a Silky Saw blade while cutting a branch?

Trust me, I’ve seen a few gnarly photos, it happens too often. Why does this happen?

Many people think bigger is better and for somethings that is true! But when you are talking saw teeth, this is not the case. If you are cutting a small or thin branch and try to use a saw that has big teeth you may end up with an injury.

Poor Adam found out the hard way that using a large tooth saw for small branches can result in the saw catching on the branch… and eventually your thumb.

When was the last time this happened to you? Do you want to know how to stop your saw from slicing through skin? A fine tooth saw can be the helping hand you need. Why? Fine tooth saws are designed for small branches and cutting dry / hard branches, bamboo, carpentry / woodworking, bonsai… even bone! Fine tooth saws are available in different blade lengths, and come in both a folding saw and hand saw.

If you’re an arborist or an avid gardener and spend all day pruning, or if you have small branches at home, it is necessary to have the right tools for that particular job.

So having a fine tooth saw attached to your belt or harness or in close proximity to slice through thin or dead branches will make the task seem effortless.

Call Arborlab Tree Care and chat with Jannita on (07) 3823 1599

For more information

August 16, 2019 / by / in , ,