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Bring On 2021

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As we look forward to seeing out the unprecedented, very strange and testing year of 2020, this awful pandemic continues worldwide and looks like it’s here to stay at least for the foreseeable future.

At Training for Trees we are busy again thankfully and working with our current cohort of students trying to fit everything in before the big fella, aka Santa, arrives hopefully with a sack full of goodies providing he is able to stay safe and work OK, while wearing a face mask over that big old beard and navigating quarantine requirements, while maintaining his social distance sanitisation and exclusion zones!

Bring on 2021 and as we look towards summer 40-degree days, the upcoming storm season and a probable La Niña weather event promising to deliver more than the required amount of rain, I hope we can all move on from the events of this past year. Let’s hope we can find some sort of normal life (whatever normal is) and just continue to strive to survive.

We are a pretty resilient bunch in the arboricultural industry, always able to move with the flow and change and adapt to the situation even in the face of great challenge and adversity.

The words “in these unprecedented times” have been used to describe and blame a global pandemic which has no boundaries.

As time goes by we continue to realise that we are part of a profession which is a bit like a family, made up of some wonderful individuals who are united within the arboricultural industry the world over and generally have in common strong values and opinions and, while they may not always agree with each other, they all care about trees.

We need to continue to follow the examples of trees and nature and develop some sound reactions to our actions, for example to practice social distancing and good hygiene practices, be responsible for our actions and consider our environment.

This year has seen a lot of our learning go online and the rural industries have also seen a major review of their respective training packages.

Safety first

At TFT we have recently been carrying  out a series of safety audits and refresher training for some of our clients and have noted that a lot of the simple basic WHS tasks, such as completing a risk assessment or complying with a safe work method statement, are not being carried out as thoroughly as may be expected.

We often get to meet and liaise with some of our local Workplace Health and Safety Inspectors and find that they are just doing a job and are genuinely interested in improving and maintaining the health, safety and welfare of everyone in the workplace.

They also have some pretty major powers that enable them access to all areas of any workplace, anytime anywhere.

Now many articles in this magazine have covered the basic requirements that we all have to comply with in the workplace under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, but I thought it may be relevant to recap on a few things that are well worth taking note of as follows:

Inspectors are able to enter a workplace and inspect, examine and seize anything including documents for further analysis if required.

They can issue an improvement notice if they believe that the WHS Act has been contravened along with a date that the problem needs to be fixed by. This could involve a requirement for the retraining of staff, for example.

They can also impose on the spot infringement notices for minor offences or shut down operations completely for any major non-compliance.

During training and assessment, a lot of the competencies we work with require evidence of candidate knowledge regarding the requirements of persons at work under the aforementioned act.

For example what is a PCBU? Anyone operating a business would be classed as a P erson in C harge of a Business or Undertaking and thus fall into this category.

In a nutshell some of the duties required of a PCBU are to:

  • Provide and maintain a safe working environment
  • Ensure the safe use handling and storage of all plant and equipment
  • To provide workers with information instruction training and supervision that is necessary for them to be able to work safely without risks to their health
  • To monitor workplace conditions and ensure suitable control measures are in place to ensure workers health and safety.

Within WHS legislation there is a major emphasis on a process called “due diligence”. This basically refers to everyone’s duty to carry out their work with due regard to others and to maintain safe operating practices.

The requirements within the act and regulations regarding WHS duties of employees state that, while at work, they must take reasonable care that their actions do not affect the health and safety of other persons. They must follow all policies and procedures of their workplace.

“We are a pretty resilient bunch in the arboricultural industry, always able to move with the flow and change and adapt to the situation even in the face of great challenge and adversity.”

Take a note of some the following terms that are commonly used in the WHS act:

The general Hierarchy of risk assessment consists of the following steps that must be taken:

  • Elimination of the hazard
  • Substitution – use a safer method
  • Isolation of the hazard from people
  • Engineer – work out how to make it safer
  • Administrate process to reduce exposure
  • PPE – ensure to wear required personal protective equipment
  • A hazard means a situation or things that have the potential to cause harm
  • A risk means the possibility that harm might occur when exposed to a hazard
  • Control measures mean the action required to eliminate or minimise the risks as far as is reasonably practicable

Although fairly limited, these days when I have been out and about, I continue to see board-short wearing tree workers / chainsaw operatives carrying out various amenity tree works, including the use of top handled chainsaws for felling small trees and cutting up branches on the ground.

For all the publicity and well documented requirements and the essential need to wear PPE it is certainly not OK not to wear it just because it’s so hot!

Luckily though, it would appear that the majority of professional companies and their workers take their appearance and the wearing of PPE as well as their industry standards and professionalism seriously.

Please note, regarding the use of top handled chainsaws, the major manufacturers state quite clearly in their manuals that these machines should only be used by trained operators working above ground within the tree canopy, either from a rope and harness or from an EWP.

I see these saws getting used regularly on ground and up in the trees one handed. Some employers and operators seem to ignore or are just unaware of the fact that  the manufacturer’s recommendations are not being followed.

“Remember to schedule in regular refresher and update training sessions.”

In the past month we have had reports from around the industry of operators receiving cuts to the left arm/hand due to these machines getting used inappropriately and normally one handed.

Wearing gloves won’t stop these saws cutting operators. It is important to remember that the top handled chainsaw is not a one handed chainsaw – they have two handles and as they are essential tools for our job, so use them correctly for the purpose they were intended – use both hands at all times.

If industry accidents continue to occur following the incorrect operation of our top handled saws, then there is a real risk that “nanny” will take them away.

The world is changing and instead of just having to be good at using dangerous machinery and lifting heavy things we now also have to be able to integrate with the digital revolution. Although we decide to integrate our world with digitisation we will always need to have a plan to work safely in the practical environment.

I truly believe that although we can mechanise and digitalise many facets of our industry there will always be a need for skilled manual labour.

We also need to be able to “touch trees” as was the catchphrase used by the late and great Dr Alex Shigo. We have a huge responsibility to be responsible for our actions and the reactions that we can create within the course of our work.

Arborist Qualifications

The arboricultural industry has become well respected, established and is recognised throughout the world as a highly sought  after skilled trade and is also a major provider of employment.

As a working Arborist qualifications should be attained at a minimum of AQF level III to work unsupervised.

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 be able to use your skills anywhere in the world.

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 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 23 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 or want to consolidate and recognise your industry experience, the next step would be to continue your progression within the arboricultural industry and to follow the pathway from trade level working arborist and take it to the next level by undertaking the Diploma of Arboriculture.

To achieve the Diploma of Arboriculture you will begin 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 10 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 and management
  • Looking after trees on development sites
  • Preparation and submission of quality reports for clients and management.

Achieving your Diploma will enable you to achieve recognition for one of the highest most useful and most recognised arboricultural qualifications within the arboricultural industry and enable you to progress in your career in arboriculture as a business owner, lead arborist, tree officer, arboricultural manager or consulting arborist.

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 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.”

“Safety Rules”

Check out your eligibility for funding. Enrol now for the next intake Certificate III 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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