THE Arboricultural Association has issued an update following industry feedback on its draft ‘Industry Code of Practice for Arboriculture (Tree Work at Height)’.

The draft put forward a number of editorial and technical revisions, but most significant amendments include those related to personal fall protection systems, work positioning and rope access, equipment selection and cranes.

Among these, its guidance states that two-rope working for both stationary rope technique (SRT) and doubled rope technique (DRT) "...must be the prefeered method of working at all times".

The revisions follow the announcement that the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) now requires full compliance with the Work-at-Height regulations in relation to tree climbing operations, which has prompted much debate.

The Arboricultural Association has now provided an update, which reads: "Thank you to over 170 professionals who took the time to review and provide detailed feedback on the draft ICoP consultation which closed on Friday, 17th January.

"The revision of the ICoP will continue, utilising feedback from the comprehensive consultation process; however it has now been agreed with the HSE that arboriculture should take a different approach to other Work-At-Height industries, because trees are three dimensional, organic structures, which require a variety of different climbing techniques and systems to achieve safe, efficient working.

"The new definition of what is required for arboriculture now references 'Personal Fall Protection Systems' (PFPS) and essentially states that a Personal Fall Protection System must be used at all times for tree work, (i.e.: your primary system for working in the tree, whether that is SRT or DRT) and a secondary backup must also be used in case of failure of the primary system. This is regardless of whether an arborist is ascending, descending or moving around the tree and can be a combination of systems. There will be certain circumstances where it will be acceptable to omit the backup for short duration tasks. These will be detailed in the forthcoming ‘Technical Guide 1: Tree Climbing & Aerial Rescue’, designed to replace both the ‘Guide to Good Climbing Practice’ and ‘AFAG 401/402’.

"We envisage the revised ICoP being published in April 2020, to be followed by the draft Technical Guide 1 which, after a further consultation process, will be published in the summer.

"Until detailed guidance becomes available, the association recommends climbers continue to climb following current safe practice, using two lines wherever practicable; but without trialling techniques and equipment which are unproven. The safety of our workforce should remain everybody’s priority.

"The Arboricultural Association will keep the industry and all stakeholders informed throughout the coming months."

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