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Biosecurity is a shared Responsibility

by editor arbor age

We have a duty of care to maintain and protect our wonderful environment and say something if we see something.

Here we are heading through 2021 almost at the half way point already and as I am writing this the rollout of the vaccine is about to begin for those who choose to partake.

This got me thinking about how viruses, pests, diseases and tiny microscopic organisms spread and the devastation they can cause and what we can do in our role as arborists in this world of pandemics, unprecedented events and global climate changes.

I can’t help but feel blessed to be living in a place where all of the above is generally taken pretty seriously, heavily regulated and monitored by the medical experts, Biosecurity and in general industry, backed up by the fact that we live in a uniquely diverse country that just so happens to be an island situated a very long way from everywhere else.

We are a pretty resilient bunch in the arboricultural industry, generally always able to go with the flow and have the ability to change and adapt to whatever situation faces us, even surviving in the face of great challenge and adversity.

At Training For Trees we encourage our students to be team players and be inclusive of all on site. We believe that everyone should have an input and a responsibility towards safety and basically if anyone thinks or sees something that they feel is not right they must do something about it, ask the question or sound a warning even if they are not sure, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

The same approach is encouraged with regard to Biosecurity.

Biosecurity
Biosecurity is a general description for a series of measures designed to protect our country from the threats posed by exotic pests and diseases.

Biosecurity is everyone’s business and we all have a ‘general biosecurity obligation’ under the Biosecurity Act of Australia.

It states that Industry, government and the community are all responsible for maintaining Australia’s plant health status.

In Queensland the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) have a major project underway which is looking at improving the early detection of exotic pests and pathogens.

DAF have realised that working with arborists as well as forestry workers has greatly increased their capacity to detect exotic pests and pathogens before they become established.

They have realised that due to the fact that many forestry operations are in remote areas and carried out using large scale machinery, foresters are not as up close and personal with a hugely varied range of trees and that arborists who by nature of their work tend to travel around larger and more diverse areas may be best placed to notice a new pest or disease in its early stages and be able to report and monitor it in their local areas.

The increased surveillance would be highly significant as early detection offers the only prospect of eradication or containment of invasive pests and diseases.

In general business and individuals are all responsible for managing biosecurity risks that are under their control or that they know about, or should reasonably be expected to know about.

Under the general obligations of the acts, individuals and organisations whose activities pose a biosecurity risk must take all reasonable and practical steps to prevent or minimise each biosecurity risk to minimise the likelihood of causing a biosecurity event and limit the consequences if such an event is caused

So if you are seeing a new fungal fruiting body or noticing a particular borer caterpillar moth or insect that appears to be harming your local trees, then it would be welcomed that you were able to report it to the relevant department.

Any report will be taken seriously and will be acted upon if deemed necessary or, even if you are reporting something that is already known about, it is still welcomed.

If you have a quick search online you should come up with your local area offices, but if you are unsure then visit Biosecurity Australia and they can be found at biosecurity.gov.au. Their website has a lot of information and instruction on issues concerning plant health as well as instructions on how to report an issue and collect a sample if required.

If you are seeing invasive pest and disease tree problems in your local area, then be sure to note the date you first noticed the pest or disease:

• Where it is located – GPS coordinates would be helpful
• Description of the local area
• What sort of damage are you seeing?

So remember we have a duty of care to maintain and protect our wonderful environment along with the need to be vigilant practice good hygiene in all areas of our work and life and to be able to recognise the need to be responsible for our biosecurity and to be professional enough to research our local areas and continue to improve our skills and knowledge through continual professional development.

Workplace Health and Safety
Along with our duty of care obligations it is also a WHS requirement for everyone in the workplace to have received relevant training regarding their roles and to be deemed as competent and current in their required skills.

Penalties for non-compliance with the Workplace Health and Safety Act can be quite severe, so how can you demonstrate that you have adequately maintained compliance and currency?

Have your staff members attended recent courses workshops or verification of competency (VOC) sessions?

Can you demonstrate evidence of recent staff training or updating within your company?
• When did you last organise an aerial rescue practice day? Or audit the pruning standards within your crew? These sorts of sessions are great team builders and also help to promote safety and confidence within your workers
• Do you have a safety policy that includes safe work method statements, risk assessment and machinery checklists?
• Have staff members attended recent courses workshops or verification of competency (VOC) sessions?
• Are all qualifications certificates and licences up to date?

Making the effort and spending the time to study and achieve the relevant arboricultural qualifications will lead you on a lifelong journey in one of the most diverse industries I know and build you a skill base that once all the travel restrictions are lifted you will enable you to use your skills anywhere in the world.

Training
To be able to be considered a qualified person within the arboricultural industry the general requirements are that you will complete a period of training and assessment based in both the practical workplace environment and the classroom.

The minimum industry requirement to enable you to be officially recognised as a qualified arborist is to attain the Certificate III in Arboriculture.

This qualification is currently classified within Australian Standard definitions and accepted by industry throughout Australia as the minimum industry standard requirement to be able to be considered as a trade level qualified working arborist.

The journey to achieve the Certificate III in Arboriculture qualification currently involves the completion of industry endorsed units of competency that have been designed according to industry requirements and composed, engineered, checked and industry approved.

Once you have achieved the Certificate III in Arboriculture, served your time in the physical side of the job or just want to consolidate and recognise your industry experience, the next step would be to continue your progression within the arboricultural industry.

The best way to progress from trade level in the world of arboriculture is to take it to the next level and undertake the Diploma of Arboriculture.

To achieve the Diploma of Arboriculture you will embark on a journey that will see you develop and gain an intimate and considerable working tree knowledge. You will be educated through a combination of online and face-to-face training and assessment methods resulting in your successful completion of ten nationally recognised industry endorsed units of competency that make up the Diploma of Arboriculture.

To consider and comply with the broad expectations of the arboriculture industry and the emphasis on training and standards and the requirements of the Diploma of Arboriculture our students follow a process that covers the following points:
• Introduction into the workings of a tree with its anatomy and physiology explained and explored
• Specification and planting of new trees
• Introduction and overview of legislation and compliance requirements

• Extensive Visual tree assessment and risk management
• Disease and decay diagnosis & management
• Looking after trees on development sites
• Preparation and submission of quality reports for clients and management

To all of the employers out there, remember, new workers don’t grow on trees unfortunately, but if you want to have reliable professional staff you have to be prepared to invest in them.

As your workers, trainees or apprentices are working their way through the training process, they will steadily begin to repay your investment in their future by becoming more useful and able to operate more efficiently within your company.

If your newly qualified apprentice decides to leave and move on once they are qualified, then at least you will have had some return on your investment as they were becoming more useful to you, while they were progressing with their training and, if you get the balance right, then there will always be upcoming apprentices that will keep the cycle flowing giving you access to staff that already know your business and systems that will continue to provide a return on the investment you have made in them.

“Training is as important as the servicing of vehicles and machinery. After all, workers are the machinery that you run and need to maintain to enable the smooth operation of your business”.

“Any tree particularly if it is lucky enough to be under the supervision of a TFT qualified arborist will be a very happy tree indeed”.

Training for Trees is a registered training organisation (RTO). We are completely independent and are not auspiced attached to or operating under the direction or licence of any other RTO, TAFE or parent company. This means we are personally able look after our students and employers at every step of their journey and beyond.

“It has been proven that independent training and assessment increases staff retention safety awareness productivity and efficiency.”

Remember to schedule in regular refresher and update training sessions.

If you want to be officially classified as a qualified arborist, you will need to complete the appropriate level of qualification:
• Tree worker or climbing Arborist Certificate III in Arboriculture
• Consulting Arborist Diploma of arboriculture

“Safety Rules”
Check out your eligibility for funding. Enrol now for the next intake Certificate III in Arboriculture and Diploma, chainsaw courses (all levels), EWP Licence, Polesaw and AC/DC. Contact us for your qualifications, short courses VOC, RPL and refresher training. Train with us and leaf qualified. See our website www.trainingfortrees.com.au for details or email info@trainingfortrees.com.au

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