The arb industry’s code of practice – Jonathan Hazell

by | Apr 15, 2015 | Business, Features

Not a law enforcement app, but a vital source of safety information for arborists. Jonathan Hazell outlines why you must read ICoP: Tree Work At Height

In February the Industry Code of Practice for Arboriculture: Tree Work at Height (ICoP) was published by the Arboricultural Association with the assistance of the HSE and sponsorship and support from City and Guilds NPTC and Stihl, for which I for one am extremely grateful.

The foreword, written by the HSE states:
We commend the document to all arboricultural businesses as a source of information that will help managers and arborists to plan their work and operate safely. So that’s an obvious steer – follow this guidance.

Early in the introduction, the narrative places the ICoP in context. In the hierarchy of esteem it sits below an Approved Code of Practice, which gives advice on how to comply with the law, but it stands above task specific industry good practice guides. The code of practice provides recommendations and guidance pertaining to the planning, management and undertaking of tasks and operations.

In its 38 pages of text the ICoP seeks to encourage and promote a mindset that will deliver a consistent approach to tree service delivery. It recommends six key principles to be adopted when planning tree work operations and explores each in great detail over 35 pages. The six principles are:
a) defined standards of good management practice
b) consistent application of safe systems of work
c) informed and adequate supply, selection, use and maintenance of work equipment
d) correctly defined roles and responsibilities
e) trained and proficient personnel
f) effective planning, supervision and auditing.

The language is commendably precise throughout and when exploring the guiding principles, defines three clearly identifiable roles as well as the distinctions between them:
• the responsible person, who is ultimately legally responsible for all activities under their control
• the competent person, who is responsible for ensuring operations are managed and undertaken safely and that the work environment is controlled
• the proficient operator, who will be skilled, knowledgeable and experienced in the performance of specific tasks.

The third and fourth parts of the ICoP are by no means makeweights. The summary of legislation in part three is very thorough and should guide the reader to more research if required and the bibliography in part four is as current as it could be. The appendix is a list of the terms used in the ICoP and their particular definition in relation to their application to tree work at height.

I will be making great use of the ICoP when preparing documents for tree service delivery or monitoring tree work and I would encourage others to download the text from the AA
an-ArbAC#icop and adopt it in the context of their own area of work. Some of what I have read was well known to me already as good industry practice. Other pieces of advice and guidance I can dimly recall, but there were ideas, concepts and language that I read for the first time and which I will be able to use on behalf of my clients, for which I am truly grateful.

Go on, download your copy now and make proper use of it!

Jonathan Hazell’s career began on the tools with the Ealing tree gang in 1980. Senior roles in the public, charity and commercial sectors followed and in October 2011 Jonathan established his own arboricultural consultancy practice.