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National Safe Work Month

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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: safeworkaustralia.gov.au.

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.

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