Controlling hazards in Arboriculture.

Controlling hazards in Arboriculture.

In order to establish a safe working environment when working on an arboriculture site, like any other business we refer to our industry standard ‘Generic Risk Assessments’ in order to carry out our work safely.

The planning process, assessing risk and implementing appropriate control measures

These cover the normal and obvious risks in relation to commercial arboriculture and include everything from noise, vibration, saw use, chipper use, qualifications etc.
In addition we always carry out a ‘Site Specific’ risk assessments for every work site.

These are carried out by our Team Leaders on arrival at the site and as well as pointing out which risks and controls are relevant from our Generic Risk assessments documents, in addition, this document allows the Team Leaders to highlight andy ‘additional risks’ relating to the site which may or may not be covered by the Generics risk assessments.

These could be livestock on site, barbed wire, sharps, heavy pedestrian footfall etc

The Team Leaders will recognise the risk, highlight it in the document and put in appropriate ‘control measures’ in order to reduce the risk to safe manageable levels before being able to proceed with their work.

At any stage of the operational process, from quoting and organising works through to being on site ready to begin work, risk management can be applied.

There are 5 different types of controls available to those managing risk:


1 – ELIMINATE the risk completely
2 – SUBSTITUTE equipment or work methods
3 – ENGINEER the worksite or equipment
4 – ADMINISTER better methods. Systems and practices
5 – PPE, wear it correctly at all times as it’s your last line of defence



Remove the cause of the danger completely

The safety way to reduce exposure to a specific risk is to eliminate it completely.
For example, when planning work at a school, all works could be arranged to be carried out at the weekend which would eliminate the risk to the school children and school staff completely. Or asking a landowner to remove a horse from a field you are working in. Covering a hole in the ground or cordoning the hole off prior to commencing works.

Replace the hazardous work practice or equipment with an alternative
An example of this would be using a MEWP to access a tree other than ladders, using battery operated equipment in noise sensitive areas or even a silky hand saw instead of a chainsaw.

Isolating people from the risk
Engineering solution examples include using barriers when managing the layout of the site, maintaining/lubricating equipment properly and regular servicing scheduling in order to ensure machinery is running correctly.

Controlling the way people work
This control covers things such as ‘tool box talks’, procedural changes, new systems etc. Whilst they do not have any effect in removing the hazards, they can limit the exposure of the staff to risks by implementing procedures and controls.

The last resort…
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in arboriculture includes, wearing chainsaw protection, head, hearing and eye protection etc and is the last resort between the worker and injury. Unfortunately PPE is the least effective way of controlling hazards because of the high potential for damage to render PPE ineffective.


For more information please contact the author:

Jim Pennington
Compliance Manager – Beechwood Trees and Landscapes ltd

Additional safety information can be found on our compliance page