Tree Risk Management Plans

24-Apr-2014

An email blog from our arborist consultant Paul Shearer

I have now produced Tree Risk Management Plans for a large number of schools to meet the Department of Education and Communities (DEC) directive following the Pitt Town tragedy.  Now that schools are being proactive with regard to the safe management on their trees I am curious if their level of exposure to liability from tree failures has decreased or increased?

A vital component of any Tree Risk Assessment or Tree Risk Management Plan is recommendations for ongoing tree inspections and auditing at pre-determined intervals.  My question is; in the case of injury or death resulting from tree failure, would the tree owner (school) be more exposed if they had not been proactive with regard to the management of their trees, or if they have been proactive and have a program in place, but are not up to date with ongoing  inspections and audits?

Dr Kim Coder, a respected plant biologist and author in the field of arboriculture states the following; "As a manager, the court will ask you two basic questions after a catastrophic tree structural failure:

1) “Were the managers negligent or was the tree a nuisance?’ and,
2) “Would the hazard have been recognized upon inspection.

What do the courts recommend managers do to minimize liability risks? Three action items arise continually:

A) perform a timely systematic inspection and keep it current;
B) develop written documentation of risk management concerns; and,
C) use risk assessment inspection results in current
and future management. In many circumstances, a lack of a systematic inspection could be considered
negligence." (1)

(1)  http://warnell.forestry.uga.edu/service/library/for96-033/for96-033.pdf

I am not a solicitor and am not qualified to answer the question posed, however it would seem that once a Tree Risk Assessment or Tree Risk Management Plan has been produced; ongoing tree inspections and audits carried out at recommended inspection intervals would seem wise.

 

Enviro Frontier:

On all Schools that Enviro Frontier manage our AQF staff assess twice per year. What will happen with all the schools that have undertaken a TRMP and had work undertaken, will the tree company be sending out an AQF Level 5 staff to assess on an annual basis? Has the TRMP they have been provided outlined ongoing review, and if so at what frequency.