Help Prepare Arborists for Storm Season
April 6, 2022
Damaged or downed trees can make spring a busy and dangerous time for arborists. In Canada, October through April are the windiest months, with winds averaging 11.4 miles per hour. In March of this year, the weatherman predicted wind gusts of up to 100 km/h in Toronto, Ontario.
The risks associated with this profession aren’t just exacerbated by storms or high winds. The risk of an accident can be increased by a lack of training, long hours, and other factors. In the wake of strong winds or even a snowstorm, for example, tree care crews handle dozens of downed trees. To do so safely, they need knowledge and the right equipment.
From Equipment Training to Electrical Awareness
Chippers are one of the most dangerous tools arborists use, but there are few standards outlining safe chipper operation, according to Arboriculture Canada.
According to the government agencies who investigate tree-worker fatalities, another area that should be given more attention is electrical awareness. Electrocution is the leading cause of death for commercial tree workers. (1)
Putting Safety Over Profit
Tree workers need to change the hard and fast production mentality and adopt safe work practices that include not only risk assessment but also management. There are certain activities and equipment that are statistically the most dangerous, such as limits of approach, electrical awareness, chipper and chainsaw operation.
Arborists are often trained to do almost anything to complete jobs in a profitable way, and in some situations, they may take risks they shouldn't. A crew might be pressured to finish a job before dark to avoid returning the next day and incurring additional costs. In addition to causing accidents and near misses, this mentality can also create a culture that leads to problems.
Legislation, training, licensing, and certification are not enough; more proactive measures must be taken to reduce or eliminate identified risks and demonstrate the importance of these measures through effective communication and work methods, says Arboriculture Canada. (1)
Big Storms and Other Bad Weather
Companies and municipalities should prepare ahead of major storms by making sure their equipment is well maintained, their employees are properly trained in their native language, and their employees are provided with personal protective equipment.
Before the next big storm, consumers should also consult with a licensed tree care professional to identify damaged or improperly planted trees and remove dead limbs and trees. Then, when bad weather arrives and trees fall, they will be prepared.
When trees or branches fall, arborists can be sued for negligence. Even if they aren't at fault, legal expenses and reputation damage can be severe.
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