Category Archives: Industry Issues

Health and Safety Executive & Self Employed Workers

hse-logoBack in 2011 the Government accepted a recommendation  given by the Löfstedt report stating that “those self-employed whose work activities pose no potential risk of harm to others should be exempt from health and safety law”.

For health and safety law purposes, ‘self-employed’ means that you work only for yourself and do NOT  work under a contract of employment.

If you are specifically mentioned in the regulations  and your work  poses  potential risk….  etc then the health and safety law still applies to you. However from the 1st October 2015 if your work is not in the regulations AND no risk is posed you’re no longer governed by the health and safety laws.

Health and Safety Executive estimate that 1.7 Million self employed people will no longer apply to their line of work.

350,000 Trees to be planted this week

A MASS reforestation effort involving 35,000 Ecuadoreans
A MASS reforestation effort involving 35,000 Ecuadoreans

Ecuador named such for the equator, which runs through the country, is attempting a ‘tree-planting ‘world recorded this week.

A MASS reforestation effort involving 35,000 Ecuadoreans will take place on the 16th May 2015 where each will plant 10 seeds creating a massive 350,000 trees in an unprecedented effort says Carlos Martinez, director of the Latin-American branch of World Guinness Records. They are attempting the Latin American record, not a world record.

Ecuador’s Environment Minister, Lorena Tapia said “Ecuador is sending a historic message. It is showing the world that Ecuador is committed to the protection of the environment. It is also an invitation for citizens to act positively towards protecting the environment”.

Tapia goes on to explain that this is part of a long term governmental reforestation policy to recover 50,000 acres by 2017 and states that the country are only just beginning and have already been working towards a “zero deforestation plan”.


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Less Carbon Dioxide Absorbed by Amazon as Trees Die Off – Part Two

Less Carbon Dioxide Absorbed by Amazon as Trees Die Off
Increased mortality rate

It is estimated that in the 1990’s the Amazon absorbed up to two billion tons of CO2 each year but since then, according to the study now absorbs less than half of that.

The study was limited to primary and undisturbed forests, which makes up about 80% of the Amazon. So it doesn’t account for carbon changes, regrowth or deforestation so more research will have to be done in order to provide a more rounded result set but Lars Hedin, a professor of ecology at Princeton University suggests that the research done thus far will form an excellent springboard for a future research and understanding.

He writes: “The CO2 component of climate change may become substantially more difficult to manage and abate in the future if the findings from the Amazon basin apply more generally to the land carbon sink.”

Ian Morgan Arb is committed to Forestry conservation and growth promotion and correctly managing the trees that we have.

Less Carbon Dioxide Absorbed by Amazon as Trees Die Off – Part One

Less Carbon Dioxide Absorbed by Amazon as Trees Die Off
Less Carbon Dioxide Absorbed by Amazon as Trees Die Off

A 30 year study has revealed that the Amazon long absorbed more carbon than it releases and it suggests that the trees and leaves are losing ability to effectively suck up the excess carbon dioxide being pumped into the atmosphere by human activities.

The study shows that Increased mortality rate is the main reason for this with an increase by more than a third since the mid-1980s.

Carbon dioxide is necessary for photosynthesis to take place … the rather cool way that plants convert light into energy.

Oliver Phillips, professor of tropical ecology at the University of Leeds in England and a co-author of the study says that “because they take up a significant amount of our carbon-dioxide emissions. This is a first indication that the process is saturating”.

The Amazon is roughly 15 times the size of California and accounts for at least half the Global tropical Forrest area and with over 300 hundred billion trees store one fifth of all carbon in the earth’s biomass.

Each year, we humans contribute 35 billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere and while a quarter is thought to be absorbed by the water masses (the oceans), a quarter is absorbed by the forests and trees the remaining half is thought to be the main forces of the man-made climate change.

While the increase in our planets emissions of carbon-dioxide fuelled and surged the growth of the rain forests tress, sadly it has also decreased their life time and increased the trees’ death rate.

Researchers Create Supersized Trees

Just as Ian Morgan Arb storms into another busy few months with a wide range of Arboricultural Training Courses running weekly, Experts at Manchester University think that they have found a way to make the demand for good Arborists even higher.

By Altering two genes to accelerate growth in some trees, experts feel that this finding could help crop production and renewable energy.

A researcher at the University said “This needs to be tested but offers a potential way forward for one of the most pressing challenges of the day.”

PXY and CLE are the genes associated with the growth of cells within the tree trunk. Research found that when overstimulated the trees grew twice as fast, with thicker and wider trunk and more leaves.

With accelerated growth of trees and a boost in biomass energy this research could start to make some headway on the effects of Client Change.


Tree surgeons called upon as winds sweep southern England

As if any further demonstration was needed of the value of arborist training, not just in Staffordshire but across England, it was surely in the headlines that accompanied the winds to hit various parts of the south of the country on Monday.

One such story concerned an ash tree that was torn away from the ground as a result of potent gusts in the South Gloucestershire town of Yate. The tree in Kingsgate park, which had an estimated age of between 30 and 50 years old, was discovered by staff and visitors on the opening of the park on the morning of 30th March.

Yate Town Council’s estates officer Tony Moore confirmed that the tree concerned was a medium-sized, mature tree near the boundary of the park. He added that “arrangements are being made for its removal and timber and chippings will be retained for user where possible.

“We believe it fell during the strong winds. The tree will be cut up and removed and branches will be chipped and the chips will be used for mulching shrub beds and surfacing paths. Larger limbs will be used to form path edgings around the park.”

In a signifier of the continuing relevance of arboricultural training in areas of the UK like Yate, Moore said that a tree surgeon would inspect the ash tree for evidence of ‘ash dieback’ disease. In the event of its detection, he said, the debris would be disposed of in accordance with Defra guidance.

Fallen trees were also reported in London and the south-east, which experienced winds of up to 50mph. Monday was therefore a busy day for recipients of arb training based across this area of the UK, incidents including one in Lambourne Road, Chigwell that left one house with considerable structural damage.

A large tree also fell in nearby New Wanstead, at the junction with Hollybush Hill, forcing traffic to a standstill. Thankfully, neither incident resulted in injuries.



Chainsaw-wounded man loses drink-driving court appeal

Chainsaw-wounded man loses drink-driving court appealAttracting our amazement – if not our moral admiration – as providers of arboricultural training in Staffordshire was a recent news story from Australia. It involves a man who stitched up his own chainsaw hand wound failing to overturn a drink-driving charge resulting from driving himself to hospital after drinking a lot of gin to relieve his pain.

Timothy Withrow, a learner driver from Port Willunga, south of Adelaide, sustained the gaping hand wound at his home in February last year. Withrow gave evidence – accepted by the magistrate – that he had called two emergency departments, only to be told that they were extremely busy and it would not be possible to treat his wound for more than 10 hours.

Fearing the possibility of infection, Withrow stitched up the wound with a large sewing needle and some fishing line, washing the wound with gin in the absence of an antiseptic. He also drunk some of the gin to relieve his extreme pain. With an ambulance being unaffordable and his wife unable to be contacted, he opted to drive to hospital for more professional treatment.

However, Withrow was caught drink-driving en route, which left him facing a 12-month mandatory licence disqualification unless he could prove such an offence to be “trifling”. But the magistrate ruled against him, stating that while he admired Withrow’s courage and tolerance to pain, he did not think the same of his judgement to drive.

Despite admitting to driving with a blood alcohol reading of 0.175 – more than triple the legal limit – and other traffic offences, Withrow took the matter to the supreme court. However, Justice Kevin Nicholson agreed with the magistrate, stating that Withrow’s options other than driving included calling an ambulance or taxi, as well as approaching a workman or neighbour for help.

The judge added that a clear danger was posed to himself and other road users by his very high blood alcohol content. It means that the case will now return to the magistrates court for the sentencing of Withrow, who also claimed to have previously held a full driving licence in California for a decade.

Needless to say, such a story only further demonstrates the need for arborists to keep themselves well-versed in the safe and effective use of a chainsaw, as is covered by our own Staffordshire arboricultural training here at Ian Morgan Arb.

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Forwarder overturning incident fortunate not to result in injury

Arb Safety NewsAs a leading provider of arboricultural training, our attention was recently caught by news, as communicated in a Safety Bulletin issued by Scottish Woodlands, of a forwarder overturning, an incident that we are fortunate to report did not cause any injuries.

That is all the more remarkable given that the operator of the machine involved – a Valmet 865 – was not wearing his seat restraint, causing him to fall within the cab, breaking a window in the process. The machine was fitted with double band tracks and was carrying a full load of 3.7m logs when it overturned.

While the machine operator was remarkably unhurt, using the door to leave the cab, there can be no doubt that this incident was a near miss – and that it gives much for the recipients of Staffordshire arborist training to learn from.

A one-way loop system was being used to extract the timber that was involved in the incident, having been successfully used on other parts of the same and similar sites by the same harvesting team. The agreed working method entailed the part-loading of the forwarder on the 30 degree slope of the steeper upper sections, prior to topping up to the full load on the lower sections. Unloading then took place at the loading bay, followed by the forwarder’s move back to the top of the loop.

On this occasion, however, a full timber load had been taken on by the operator at the site’s top steepest section. The machine was rendered unstable by the stacking of the load up tight against the bunk head, which was set in the forward position. Greater stability would have been ensured if the bunk head had been set further back, given how much more evenly the load’s weight would have sat over the back wheels.

The operator’s failure to watch/monitor the bunk section while driving forward down the hill meant that the rear section was allowed to snag and drag on a pile of brash, resulting in the tipping of the bunk, which took the cab over with it.

Not only is the Valmet 865 fitted with glass front windscreens, side and door windows that can be broken to allow their use as emergency exits, but the rear windows are also Margard/Safety glass, giving the operator protection during the loading/unloading process.

At the very least, there is a lesson to be learned of the importance of operators always wearing a seat restraint to hold them in the centre of their cab in the event of their machine overturning.

How Chalara-infected ash trees may be managed in various circumstances

Students of arboricultural training in Staffordshire or elsewhere are advised to familiarise themselves with the wide range of circumstances and settings in which Chalara-infected ash trees often need to be managed.
You may, for example, wish to carry out works on trees that are protected by tree preservation orders (TPOs) and conservation areas (CAs), in which case, it will first be necessary to contact the Tree Officer in your local Planning Office, clearly specifying the trees involved and their locations. You will also need to describe the extent of the work that you are interested in carrying out, in addition to the reasons why you would like to carry out the work. This application will then be considered by the Tree Officer.
Ash trees on development sites may also require management, with any tree survey intended to support a planning application needing to include the categorisation of trees according to the criteria shown in Table 1 of British Standard 5837:2012. This is for the purpose of identifying the existing tree stock’s quality and value, so that informed decisions can be made with regard to the removal or retention of trees in the event of development work.
Deadwood can also occur in infected ash trees that are on or adjacent to highways and footpaths, posing a potential health and safety risk. This makes it crucial for trees in such a setting to be managed in a manner that places the emphasis on public safety, ensuring that action is proportionate so that there is no unnecessary pruning or felling. Safety considerations will be at the discretion of the relevant Highways Authority, taking priority with regard to the management of ash trees close to the highway.
Similar principles apply to ash trees in parks, public spaces and heritage sites, as well as on private property that is not woodland or protected by a TPO or CA. Meanwhile, when a site is home to significant ancient, veteran or isolated trees with particular merit, best practice is to clear away and dispose of nearby leaf litter during the autumn, so that the trees are best-protected from infection.
Finally, some trees – particularly those that are mature, stressed and/or damaged – provide various roosting opportunities for bats. The legal protection of bats and their roosts from disturbance, damage or destruction – even when bats are not actually present at the time the work takes place – makes it vital for a survey to be carried out establishing that the given tree is not being used as a bat roost.

An introduction to Chalara

Chalara infection Tree DiseaseThere’s no question of the extent to which Chalara dieback of ash – also known as ash dieback or just Chalara – represents a  bane to the lives of many of those receiving arb training in Staffordshire. This fungal disease affects ash trees, causing crown dieback, leaf loss and bark lesions. Even worse is that it is usually either directly or indirectly fatal to trees, due to the weakened tree’s consequent vulnerability to pests or pathogens.

Chalara has been responsible for the infection and death of a significant proportion of Europe’s ash trees, and since its initial discovery in the UK in nursery stock in 2009, it has become prevalent among ash trees in woods, hedges, plantations, parkland and urban areas, particularly in Eastern England. It is thought that infections first began to occur here due to fungus spores being carried on the wind from planted nursery stock on the continent.

With Chalara now well-established in Britain, all chances of the disease being eradicated from here are remote. Ultimately, most of the country’s ash trees will be infected by the disease, in a manner akin to Dutch Elm Disease in the 1970s. Ash trees with the disease can pose a major risk to people and property if they are not suitably managed by landowners.

As a recipient of arb training in Staffordshire, it is important for you to carry out regular surveys of ash trees so that you can take appropriate action. There are certain ways of minimising Chalara’s presence and rate of spread so that you can maximise the amount of genetic diversity in your ash trees and ensure as little compromise as possible to associated species, general biodiversity and timber production. Above all else, the right management will help to preserve ash in the long term.

While ash trees can have certain undesirable effects such as damaging property or risking human safety, they can also be an immensely valuable part of the overall urban, suburban and rural landscape. Where the management of ash trees is advisable, getting this process right will help to enhance the trees’ value, access and other advantages. Deadwood, for example, is not merely a hazard, but also a vital ecological attribute that is depended on by many species.

Ash trees should be retained where possible, in accordance with national guidance. Such trees should not be felled or pruned merely due to the likelihood of Chalara infection, as should be noted by anyone in Staffordshire who takes advantage of arb training.