Thursday, November 22, 2007

ISA HK/China --- HK Tree News (WTS Chainsaw Accident & Alleged Tree Felling in Tai Po)



*** Our weekly Station Mail is for the information of Station Members only, but Station Mail has given up copyright & can be freely circulated. For administrative reasons, comments from outsiders are usually not entertained & may be circulated within our system locally & overseas. Please note Station Mail is sometimes given in Blog at http://isahkchina.blogspot.com/ , although images are usually not attached due to size. ***

Dear Station Members,

Two sets of recent tree news in our territory for our interest:

1. Wong Tai Sin Chainsaw accident

It is sad for this Station to learn of the unfortunate Chainsaw Accident so happened in Wong Tai Sin on Nov 20 so described in the attachments. This Station wishes to offer our deepest condolence for the Chainsaw Operator who was seriously injured during the work, & hope he can recover soonest.

The description in the two newspaper cuttings has offered conflicting account for the accident. One newspaper reported that the two workers were wearing safety belts climbing the tree but the trunk could not support the weight & broke off, throwing the two workers to ground causing injuries. The other newspaper reported that one worker was using a ladder for climbing but lost his balance during Chainsaw Operation & fell off, while the cut branch dropped to hit the supervisor below. With conflicting reports as such, the cause of the accident would require further investigation.

It is known to this Station that Tree Climbing with Chainsaw Operation would be a highly dangerous manoeuvre & would require the tree workers sufficient training & experience to perform safely while working on tree. Tree work accidents have ranked among top 5 for industrial accidents in the USA for years & tree work is required to be performed by qualified personnel in Europe & America. HK does not have specific regulations with regard to tree climbing & Chainsaw Operation so far, but would have Occupational Safety & Health regulations such as CAP 509 for general principles.

For ISA Arborists, we would generally follow the Safety Requirements for Arboricultural Operations laid down in ANSI Z133.1-2006 which has given detailed account for elevated tree work. In Court, this ANSI will become our reference for Expert Witness or Defense for any legal pursuit.

This Station has generally some questions to ask in an accident of this kind:

1. Were these workers trained & qualified for the work?
2. Were they wearing proper Personnel Protective Equipment (PPE) especially safety goggles to protect the eyes?
3. Did they inspect the tree to ascertain it was safe & strong enough for climbing before entry?
4. Did they have a work plan & emergency plan in case of accident?
5. Was First Aid Kit right next on site? Was anyone trained in First Aid & applied it right after the accident?
6. Were the tree workers climbing with approved Arborist Equipment such as Arborist Rope, approved Climbing Saddle & approved Safety Lanyard for entry?
7. Was there any Fall Arrest measure against falling?
8. If a ladder was used, was it used in compliance with the manufacturer's recommendation & procedure?
9. Was any of the worker trained to operate a Chainsaw?
10. Was any of the worker trained to performed proper pruning? If so, to what international standard?
11. Who ordered this tree climbing & Chainsaw operation? Was there any specific instruction given to the workers?

This accident is likely to invite Govt inspection, insurance claims & perhaps even legal proceeding. An Arborist can be employed to provide Expert Witness on either side. Arborists are Tree Doctors & Tree Detectives. An experienced Arborist can root out the problem & indicate liabilities.

Tree Climbing & Chainsaw Operations will be the training given at Tree Climbing HK (TCHK) in due course.

Join TCHK?

2. Alleged Tree Felling in Tai Po

Someone was fined HK$30,000 for an alleged tree felling without Govt approval but appealed to have the case reviewed at a higher Court & won. She spent over HK$ 200,000 to employ one of the best lawyers in HK to fight her case.

All this Station could advise may be that she could employ a qualified Arborist to inspect the alleged tree in the beginning & presented an Arborist Report to the relevant Govt Dept for consideration before taking the matter in her own hand. An Arborist Report of this kind would only cost HK$10,000 in accordance with the Professional Fees Guidelines laid down by ISA HK/China & it would be much more friendly to discuss the matter over technical ground than in legal ground in Court.

It is interesting that in our territory when it comes to tree affairs, all in a sudden everyone would become a Tree Expert without the consideration for Arborists. The other 50 countries in the world may be wrong to recognize Arborists to be the Tree Care Experts & ISA should not be established in 1924, if such view is correct. Would the people with this view say the same for Medical Doctors ? Then why should they say it for Tree Doctors ?

This Station has a long way to go to educate our public indeed for proper tree care.

best regards,

Sammy Au
Station Manager

The ISA Mission - Through research, technology, and education, promote the professional practice of arboriculture and foster a greater public awareness of the benefits of trees. (http://www.isa-arbor.com/)

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