Employing a Tree Surgeon

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Anyone can call themselves a tree surgeon and place an advert in a trade directory or the local newspaper. It is easy to be caught out and hire a bad tree surgeon – so here are a few suggestions on what you should be looking for to help you choose a reliable tree surgeon to carry out work at an acceptable standard.

Tree felling and tree surgery are skilled operations which require a high level of technical knowledge, supported by training and experience.

  • Make a plan of everything that needs to be done and discuss this in detail with the tree surgeon. If you have a good understanding of what to expect and how things will look when the job has finished, you will be far happier with the outcome.
  • Ask for references or recommendations.
  • Make sure a tree surgeon has adequate insurance and can provide the certificates of their training to do the job in hand!
  • Ask if the tree surgeon works to British Standards. The two main British standards for tree work are:
    • British Standard 3998:1989 ‘British Standard Recommendations for Tree Work’
    • British Standard 5837:1991 ‘Trees in Relation to Construction’
  • Obtain a written quote and make sure that everything you have asked for is included. (e.g. make sure that the hire cost for chipping machine or the price for wood removal is included)
  • Make sure the tree is not protected. Your local planning office, or local authority will be able to tell you whether a tree is protected. If you are not sure, a good tree surgeon will be able to advise you. Stay within the law.

In certain circumstances, tree owners are required to obtain permission from the local authority or the Forestry Commission before any tree surgery can be legally carried out. It is strongly advised that the relevant authority is consulted before work commences, or both the tree contractor and the land owner could be liable to prosecution. In most cases you should confirm that you are able to undertake any tree works with the council to whom you pay your council tax.

Checklist of things a tree surgeon should do before taking down a tree:

  • Make sure there is written permission from a local authority tree officer where there is a Tree Preservation Order or if it is in a conservation area.
  • Check for a risk assessment identifying hazards such as power cables and risks to the general public and identify the numbers of workers required and equipment needed for the job. e.g. a minimum of two tree surgeons must be used for any tree climbing operations and one of the groundsmen must be trained in aerial rescue.
  • Make sure all tree surgeons are wearing protective clothing. This is a pre-requisite for tree surgery.
  • A tree surgeon MUST plan escape routes when felling trees so discuss this with your contractor.
  • A tree surgeon MUST always carry first aid equipment and have contact numbers for local emergency services in the event of an accident. Ideally the team leader should be trained in first aid. Ask your tree surgeon who the designated first aider is when working on your land.
  • On busy trunk roads one must use traffic lights, cones, red and white barrier tape and barriers. When traffic lights are used, companies must notify local councils and get permission. Sometimes it is required for companies to advertise in local newspapers to inform the general public of any inconvenience to road travel.
  • All ground staff and tree surgeons in a tree surgery outfit must wear high visual equipment.
  • Make sure all the tree surgeons are wearing Protective Clothing. This is a pre-requisite for Tree Surgery.

On this website you can search for a local tree surgeon and tree contractor that regularly works or are based in your area. The amount of time taken to travel to and from a site is often reflected in the price you pay, and therefore choosing local tree contractors helps to reduce travelling time and avoids processed timber and chippings being carted over long distances.

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