TCAA Training Day

All the way with TCAA.

On the last weekend of May, the men and women of the TCAA gathered within the convention centre of St Joseph at Seven Hills. The cups of tea and greetings were amid voice overs of old colleagues and new friends coming together for the TCAA Training Day. Togetherness is tough after not physically meeting for two years as an association.

Guest Speaker – Dan McArdle
The first speaker of the day was introduced by Bruce Smith, who hails from Orange, inviting Dan McArdle to the podium. Dan professed the use of the Pre Climb Assessment and related this to AQF 3 outcomes from the Government Training Packages.

Dan’s main thrust of In-House Training, due to labour skills shortages, focused on allowing PUCB (Persons undertaking and conducting business) and team leaders to instruct on best Industry practices within their own organisations; hierarchy (transits) of control and persisting with gear checks and quality tests, bringing what you know to a toolbox meeting.

The Safe Work approach utilising SWMS and JSA documents – including ALARP and SOFARP – were readily defined by our guest speaker. ALARP is related to trees and risk where as SOFARP is related to all WH&S documentation in business by law. Dan also reviewed safety issues:
• Species
• Vigour
• Defects
• Exposure
• The Hierarchy of control
• Use of EWP as first option
• Where and when climbers are used if other areas of access are restricted due to safety factors
• The use of registered gear and logged gear
• The proper care including percentage of wear
• Dated materials
• Relegating old gear to the non-climbing bench
• Access methodology for difficult sites and the need for expert advice within the TCAA or TTIA – Timber Trades Industry Association on serious threats within the workplace.

Guest Speaker – Bill Sullivan
The main event from Bill Sullivan progressed with tree risk and the usage of the vTRA system. Bill discussed the ‘Voo Doo’ Science of 154 tree risk systems used on the planet from all aspects of the tree industry. He elaborated on the chocolate wheel probability and gave clear definitions of reasonable practice including risk, target, occupation descriptors, the assumption of consequence and the role of the TCAA arborist. Bill’s view of specific management on the Top End trees, like the African Mahogany and other boat brought immigrant trees that peppered the shallow soil profiles.

Bill also discussed:
• The need for educating tree workers, who require in-servicing or inducting
• The mentality of cutting tree roots to put down paving with cause and effect coming into play as well as windthrow of these affected trees
• The major issues of over pruning and the loss of the branches or decay of branches that fail from poor management practices.
Bill gave us an extract from Kenneth James and the issues of wind exposure on trees, a study dear to his heart. (Bill is from NT and closest city is Darwin – the Cyclone city).

Bill also alluded to the reasons plastic snakes were used as a deterrent for bats in the Botanical Gardens which can be still seen today. The tourism boost has significantly increased the gardens patronage.

Bill went on to address the Coroners’ reports regarding fatalities from falling tree branches. Bill was an expert witness for the court.

He also discussed the deaths in our society as well as the impacts on families and industry. All trees have risk and can be assessed from three levels by a competent arborist:
• Level 1: can be done by the general assistant or worker who has knowledge of the area to identify changes to a tree, or the arborist
• Level 2: can be done by the AQF 3 or AQF 5 – the VTA is a prelude to the check for issues and defects
• Level 3: can be done by the AQF 3 or AQF 5 but is when there are a variety of factors like exposure, species, variation and defects. Only a AQF level 5/6 Arborist can report on this level of inspection.

Bill has an AQF level 6 Arborist accreditation who’s motto is “know your tree before you give management advice”.

Industry Meeting
A TCAA general industry meeting followed, during which the president gave the 27th annual address “enthusiastically” keeping the association vision ‘Safety Experience Trust’. Lunch followed which was always going to be a gathering of what’s happening in the trenches over sandwiches and who’s voting in who.

The Afternoon Session
The afternoon gathered momentum with benchmarking of the senior level 3 and 5 arborists venturing through five common tree examples. The level 1, 2 and 3 risk assessment which ‘fit for purpose’ and assisted in conducting assessments in a reasonable decision-making proactive tree risk approach. A number of scenarios were reviewed and best management outcomes sort. Teams were arranged to engage on benchmarking the assessments of five indigenous large trees – with the huge availability of hollows, bees and birds, targets and valued camellias being guarded and the group of arborists delegating responsibility to either duty holders or the assessor.

Most notable questions were:
• How do we come to the same conclusions? Outcome – Do a VTA and check occupation and target
• Do I have to increase the occupation rating if a seating arrangement is placed under a (dead) tree?
• What ecological values are found in an assessment?
• What other experts are needed if a court case ensues?

The feedback was unanimous and a Training Day for workers who could not attend will be prior to the next general meeting, ensuring all members are relicensed with this training module.

In summary, the issues of Access and Preclimb, having assessing arborists who are from the industry, assessing defects and health and structure of a tree and utilising hierarchy of controls within Safe Work, including our integrated “Code of practice”, found in The Tree Workers Guide underpins the best industry practices within the TCAA.

The industry women who attended, the AQF 3 and 5 arborists and those preparing for AQF 5 and guests, enjoyed the location and training.

For further information on the Tree Management Guidelines please contact or call Jim McArdle on 0449 228 788.

New Executive
The new executive was voted in:
• President – Carson Smith (Ned Kelly)
• Vice President – Jim McArdle
• Treasurer – Murray Boland
• Secretary – Bruce Smith
• Committee – Jeff Hunt, Brady Blaker, Dan McArdle
• Compliance – Dan McArdle
• Media representative – Robert McArdle

It is noted that the past three presidents were regional and the new metropolitan man who has won the presidency will take a new CRUNCH approach (with careful responsive understanding certifying harmony) with a vision for ‘All the Way with the TCAA’ to increase in training and safer work practices.

For Tree Contractors Association Australia membership enquiries, please go to or call 1300 660 379 or email

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