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How to Choose the Right Tree Surgeon

Tree surgeons are qualified experts. They are trained in how to handle all species of trees with the greatest of care using the safest of methods. There is of course a vast amount of choice when selecting a tree surgeon, so the question is, how to choose the right tree surgeon? Let’s take a look at all the things you should consider when making your selection so that you can be sure your tree will be in the best of hands, and you’ll be getting the very best value service.

Check Tree Surgeon Qualifications

Tree surgery takes in a variety of tasks. The crucial thing to be aware of is that not all tree workers are qualified to carry out all types of tree work.

Your task here is to make sure the tree surgeon you are hiring is qualified in the disciplines that apply to the service you are asking them to carry out. Let’s explore this further.

Industry standard qualifications for tree surgery are NPTC (City & Guilds National Proficiency Test Council) and LANTRA.

NPTC qualifications cover chainsaw maintenance; onsite preparation and cross cutting of timber; felling and processing of trees from 200-380mm diameter; and felling and processing of trees over 380mm diameter. Some tree surgeons only hold NPTC Unit 203 which applies to smaller trees up to 380mm in diameter. If your tree is larger than this, then your tree surgeon will need to hold NPTC Unit 301.

Most tree care tasks will require a tree surgeon to work at height. This itself requires particular qualifications including NPTC Unit 206 for tree climbing, and Unit 306 for aerial rescue. Unit 308 allows a tree worker to use a chainsaw from a rope and harness, and Unit 309 permits aerial tree dismantling operations.

Tree workers who use a wood chipper or a stump grinder for tree stump removal will need separate qualifications. Formal LANTRA certified wood chipper and stump grinder training is a legal requirement under the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER).

When considering how to choose the right tree surgeon, it is vital to check your tree surgeon holds the relevant certifications, otherwise you could run into issues if you need to make a claim for damages or poor workmanship. You could also find yourself liable if a claim is made against you, for example by a neighbour or passer-by who is injured by an unqualified tree worker.

Legislation provides that tree surgeons must be competently trained and qualified in the specific tasks they are undertaking. We’ll take a closer look at legislation later, but for now, just one last note on qualifications and training.

It is all very well tree surgeons taking courses and passing competence tests. But if they don’t keep their skills up to date and refresh their knowledge so it falls in line with modern practices, it could soon go out of date. So check when considering how to choose the right tree surgeon that they invest in refresher training, at least every five years. Check the dates on the certificates they show you – and make sure these certificates are genuine – because sadly there are some unscrupulous people about who will fake them. Out of date certificates could invalidate an insurance claim, so tread extremely carefully in this respect.

Make sure the tree surgeon you are hiring is qualified in the disciplines that apply to the service you are asking them to carry out.

Check Experience

How many years’ experience does your tree surgeon have? The more experience, the more peace of mind you will have concerning quality of workmanship, service and safety standards.

You can check experience by looking at the dates the tree surgeon attained his or her qualifications, or by looking up when the company was registered.

Check Insurance

Tree surgeons must by law hold full liability insurance in the sum of at least £5 million. As a customer, this will cover you for any damage or injury caused to property in the line of carrying out tree services.

Check the insurance cover. Don’t just take the tree surgeon’s word for it: ask to see the certificate. Also ask about the insurance claims history. A clean record will indicate a safe, professional service where rigorous risk assessments form part and parcel of everyday working practices.

Without adequate insurance cover, your tree surgeon could be putting you at serious financial risk.

Check Standards and Legislation Compliance

There is a raft of legislation that a tree worker will need to comply with, and various standards you can look for to show that your tree surgeon has gone above and beyond regular levels of skill and competence.

The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) place duties on people and companies who own, operate or have control over work equipment. PUWER also places responsibilities on businesses and organisations whose employees use work equipment, whether owned by them or not.

The Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 1992 are in place to ensure protective equipment such as helmets, gloves, eye protection, safety footwear and safety harnesses are used where a risk assessment deems them necessary.

Other legislation that tree surgeons must work within are the Work at Height Regulations 2005; the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974; the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999; the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992; Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH); the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005; the Lifting Operations & Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER). A good tree surgeon team will also have a qualified first aider.

Tree surgeons should be checking their PPE and equipment that falls under LOLER on a regular basis. LOLER requires independent safety inspections by a competent person. If these are not in place then the tree surgeon’s insurance will be invalidated, which means as a customer, you could find yourself liable for any claims made for damage or injury resulting from their inadequacies.

Standards wise, your tree surgeon should follow the Arboriculture and Forestry Advisory Group (AFAG) guidelines and work to British Standard BS3998 2010 for pruning.

You may also look for Trading Standards, Local Authority and Safe4Site approval, all of which will indicate a higher than average level of competence. Knowledge of dealing with Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) is also vital if you have trees on your land that are protected in this way.

Check Services Offered

There is a huge range of tree care services and you should be able to rely on your tree surgeon to recommend the right ones to suit your particular tree and its circumstances.

A good tree surgeon will offer ALL tree services, and will be able to deal with any species of tree, regardless of its height and size, or any challenges it poses, such as thorny or spiky branches.

When thinking about how to choose the right tree surgeon, be wary of any tree worker who refuses to deal with certain types or sizes of tree or who refuses to carry out certain services.

Check Reviews

You can ask your tree surgeon for evidence of references and these should be checkable. In addition, scour the internet for reviews. Look at Google, Trust Pilot and the like and check the star rating and any comments. Whilst the odd negative review should not put you off, consistently bad reviews should raise alarm bells.

Check Prices

It is important to pay the right price for your tree surgeon services. When considering how to choose the right tree surgeon, you should steer away from overly cheap quotes, but at the same time you should not pay too much. Our guide to how much tree surgery should cost will help you work out what you should be paying. You should be getting excellent value for a job well done.

Quality Tree Surgeon Services from TH Trees Ltd

If you are looking for an Essex tree surgeon that fits the bill in every way, get in touch with TH Trees Ltd. With 15 years’ experience; an unblemished insurance record; Safe4Site Gold, Local Authority and Trading Standards approval and no less than ten NPTC and two LANTRA qualifications and full compliance with all relevant regulations as well as top Google ratings, we are well placed to provide you with a service you really can depend upon.

Fantastic service

Polite, professional and tidy.
The team were punctual, very polite, kept me well informed of what they were doing, anything I asked them wasn’t an inconvenience.
Service with a smile and the tidy up job was fantastic too.
I would certainly recommend TH Tree services and happily use them again.

Hi Mrs Easton, thank you for leaving a lovely review. The team are really pleased they come across professional and friendly.

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