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Resilient As Ever

by editor arbor age

We are now past the festive season and have had a welcome start to 2021. As we look forward to moving away from the awful events of the past year, let’s hope we can find some sort of normal life (whatever normal is) and just continue to strive to survive.

The successful deployment of a vaccine seems close at this time of writing so maybe we are on the way to lead us into the new normal although, I think hand washing and sanitising, as well as maintaining adequate social distance sanitisation and exclusion zones are well and truly here to stay.

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 the situation faces us even surviving 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 for too long, so hopefully now is the time to repair, reshoot and flourish.

Sadly though there have still been some unfortunate workplace accidents and fatalities that serve to remind us that we work within a high risk industry.

It is so sad to think that anyone could lose their life or be seriously injured in the course of their work and, if anyone reading this has suffered a loss, please accept our heartfelt condolences.

It is very difficult to obtain specific statistical data regarding accidents, incidents and fatalities that relate to our industry as we are generally included with the broad overview of rural industries and usually grouped in under the heading of Agriculture Forestry and Fishing.

The latest workplace fatality statistics which are from 2019 records have been recently published by Safe Work Australia as follows.

The report details that in 2019, 183 worker fatalities occurred throughout Australia with 68 per cent of them occurring in the following industries:
• Transport, postal and warehousing (58 fatalities)
• Agriculture, forestry and fishing (30 fatalities)
• Construction (26 fatalities)

The most common causes of worker fatalities in 2019 were:
• Vehicle collisions
• Falls from a height
• Hit by falling objects

While the number of work-related fatalities has been steadily decreasing over the last decade, any workplace death is tragic and unacceptable. In 2007 throughout Australia the fatality rate for male workers was five fatalities per 100,000.

In 2019 (177 of the 183 fatalities) equating to 1.4 fatalities per 100,000 were men but overall the fatality rate for male workers has been generally declining. Over the same period the fatality rate for female workers (6 of the 183 fatalities) has decreased from 0.5 fatalities per 100,000 female workers in 2007 to 0.1 fatalities per 100,000 in 2019.

These recently published statistics show that in the rural industries workplace fatalities seem thankfully to be generally decreasing. Could the reason for this possibly be due to the effects of a better understanding of training and industry requirements, with more people taking safety and training seriously and wanting to comply with the high standards being set within the training certification and licencing requirements of the rural industries that is helping to ensure greater workers safety?

Perhaps this is the beginning of a new era for the rural industries with the increased awareness and emphasis regarding the importance and benefits of quality training and assessment standards. Everyone in the industry should strive to contribute towards the health and safety and wellbeing of their work mates by looking out for each other.

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 towards safety and, basically, if anyone thinks or sees something that is not right, they must do something about it and ask the question or sound a warning, even if they are not sure – it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Although my time out and about has been fairly limited recently, 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.

Remember this is not acceptable and that these top handled saws are designed for trained specialist operators for above ground use only, they are not designed to be used as a ground saw and they are certainly not designed for one handed operation! 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!

Thankfully, 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.

Let’s get serious with improving safety Now we are in 2021. This is the time to carry out a review of your current staff needs regarding their job expectations and requirements, along with their current qualifications and any requirements for VOC upskilling and training to develop and maintain their industry currency.

Obligations under the Work Health and Safety Act are pretty clear regarding employer and employee requirements and if you are self-employed or an employer you will be referred to as a PCBU (Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking) and you are deemed responsible for the health and safety of your staff as well as anyone else around your worksite such as visitors and bystanders.

Within the current WHS legislation there is a general obligation for everyone in the workplace to act with due diligence. This basically translates to mean the care that a reasonable person must exercise to avoid harm to themselves or others in and around the workplace.

“This is the time to carry out a review of your current staff needs regarding their job expectations and requirements, along with their current qualifications.”

It is a pretty open ended term placing
responsibility for everyone at work,
including employers, the self-employed
and employees to comply with general
WHS requirements and to carry out their
duties as responsible operators as far as is
reasonably practicable. It is also a requirement for everyone to have received relevant training regarding their roles and to be deemed as competent and current in their required skills.

Employer’s primary duties required by law 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.

Penalties for non-compliance with the Work Health and Safety Act can be quite severe so how can you demonstrate that you have adequately maintained compliance and currency?
• Do you and your staff hold relevant qualifications and statements of attainment?
• Can you demonstrate evidence of recent staff training or updating within your company?
• 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?

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 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.

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.

“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.”

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 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 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 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.

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 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.

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