Tree Management (Risks & Responsibilities)

Tree Surgeons Swansea

Trees provide many natural benefits which are valued by society. They can screen eyesores on the landscape, soften built form, cool and filter the air and reduce wind speeds. They provide shade in the summer and habitats for wildlife. Their growth, form and habit provide a connection to nature and the changing seasons. They provide pleasant settings in which to exercise, aid recovery from illness and promote feelings of well-being.

Trees are however large biological organisms. Their health can decline over time and their structural integrity can fail as a result of mechanical defects, disease or decay. Trees or tree parts (Hazards) can weigh as little as a few kilograms to several tonnes. Tree parts (twigs, branches and large limbs) can fall from considerable heights increasing their impact force and severity of damage whilst failure of roots or the trunk can result in catastrophic failure of the whole tree.

If the trees are small or located away from roads, buildings and frequently occupied areas (Targets), the likelihood of damage or injury occurring (risk), is very low. Conversely trees close to roads, buildings and areas frequently occupied by the public, pose a significantly greater risk as failure is more likely to result damage, injury or death. The overall risk of serious injury or death in the UK is considered to be extremely low however this is of little consequence to the injured party or their family when an accident does occur.

Tree owners and land managers in the UK are required by both Common and Statute law to ensure their trees are reasonably safe and do not pose an unacceptable level of risk to employees, visitors to the site or neighbours of the land on which trees are located. This does not however require that trees are maintained completely risk free as this would be an impossible task to achieve.

Owners and managers of large organisations or commercial premises have a further duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to ensure a safe place of work and to protect non employees from risks associated with their enterprise (which includes their premises). Suitable risk assessment of large sites may identify various levels of risk and use which require different levels and frequency of inspections (zoning).

In order to discharge this duty of care an owner or manager must be able to demonstrate that their trees have been maintained and managed in a reasonable and proportionate way. Trees should therefore be inspected by tree surgeons at regular intervals based on the level of risk posed. A competent person, owner or employee who has a basic knowledge of trees and their defects could carry out the initial inspection. They should however, be aware of the limits of their knowledge and know when to seek further advice. If the inspection identifies anything which could be considered different from a normal healthy tree, advice should be sought from a qualified, competent and experienced arboriculturalist.

Unless the trees are owned by a commercial enterprise or large organisation it is not a legal requirement to keep records of the inspections or risk assessments. It is however advisable to keep records as this provides documentary evidence that a proactive system of tree inspections was carried out in the unlikely event an accident should happen and a criminal prosecution or civil claim arise. A tree survey and tree report will identify the risks posed, works required to reduce them to an acceptable level and provide a specification and time-frame in which works should be completed. Any specified works should be completed within prescribed time frames to ensure the duty of care has been met.

Where tree owners do not feel that they are competent to inspect trees themselves, they should employ a professional tree surgeons who have the requisite skills, knowledge, ability, training and experience to inspect their trees in a competent manner. An instruction to carry out the tree inspection should be clear, unambiguous and preferably in writing. A suitably qualified person is likely to hold a recognised qualification in Arboriculture or Forestry and be able to show they maintain their knowledge through regular training events and reading. A person holding the Lantra Professional Tree Inspection certificate would be considered as being appropriately qualified.

Professional Tree Surgeons Swansea

Four Seasons Garden Services and Tree Surgeons Swansea offer a comprehensive consultancy service and provide a regional service to our residential and commercial customers helping them meet their duty of care in a structured and cost effective way. We have considerable experience in assessing the health, safety and condition of trees on all sites from large commercial premises to highways and single private residential gardens. We can help our clients formulate and implement tree management systems and risk limitation strategies. As Arboricultural Association Approved Contractors we can also carry out specified works in accordance with industry best practice and British Standard Recommendations for tree works 2010.

All of our consultants are highly qualified Arboriculturalists who hold the Lantra Professional Tree Inspection qualification. In order to maintain and improve quality, all members of the consultancy team follow a programme of continuous professional development and attend regular training events.

If you need the help of Tree Surgeons, give us a call on 07497 685869 or email – we will be pleased to provide a free quotation for all your tree surgery or tree maintenance needs.