OHS Code Explanation Guide

Published Date: July 01, 2009
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Part 39 Tree Care Operations

Section 793 Safe work practices

Subsection 793(1)

An employer is required to develop and implement safe work practices and procedures. Section 8 of the OHS Regulation requires that the procedures be in writing and available to workers. More specifically, the safe work practices and procedures must include:

(a) an assessment of hazards at the work site – this hazard assessment is key to performing work safely and is a mandatory requirement of the OHS Code. Employers must assess hazards and then eliminate and control them as required by Part 2, Hazard Assessment, Elimination and Control. Readers are referred to the explanation of Part 2 for a thorough discussion of what is expected of employers and workers.

Hazards specific to tree care operations that need to be considered in the hazard assessment include:

(i) condition of the root zone e.g. cracks, lack of root flare, soil mounding;
(ii) condition of the tree trunk e.g. cracks, loose bark, swellings or depressions;
(iii) condition of the tree crown e.g. lodged branches, dead branches, stinging insects, electrical conductors;
(iv) weather-related hazards e.g. ice, snow or wet limbs; and
(v) climbing and work site hazards e.g. nearby structures, vehicles and their access to the work area, presence of lawn furniture, bird feeders, satellite dishes and antennas, electrical hazards, poisonous plants, extreme slopes, people in the area.

(b) worker training, including hazard recognition – section 15 of the OHS Regulation requires that workers be trained in the safe operation of the equipment they are required to operate. This training must include the following:

(i) the selection of appropriate equipment;
(ii) the limitations of the equipment;
(iii) an operator’s pre-use inspection;
(iv) the use of the equipment;
(v) the operator skills required by the manufacturer’s specifications for the equipment;
(vi) the basic mechanical and maintenance requirements of the equipment;
(vii) loading and unloading the equipment if doing so is a job requirement; and
(viii) the hazards specific to the operation of the equipment at the work site.

Workers must participate in the training and apply it when working. Workers must also be trained to recognize hazards and know what to do about them;

(c) work positioning and fall protection – workers must understand the difference between these two safety systems and the equipment each requires. Work positioning systems support a worker so that the worker’s hands are free when he or she reaches the work position. Fall protection systems either “catch” a worker in mid-air, preventing the worker from contacting a lower surface (fall arrest system), or prevent a worker from reaching an edge from which he or she could fall (travel restraint system); and

(d) emergency rescue – the employer must develop rescue procedures to be used if a worker falls, is suspended by a work positioning system or fall arrest system and needs to be rescued. Readers are referred to the explanation of section 143 for information about emergency rescue, as well as the explanation of Part 7, Emergency Preparedness and Response.

For additional information directly related to safe work procedures, readers are directed to section 9, Work Procedures, of ANSI Standard Z133.1-2006, American National Standard for Arboricultural Operations – Pruning, Repairing, Maintaining, and Removing Trees, and Cutting Brush – Safety Requirements. The remainder of the requirements of the Standard are already addressed in the OHS Code and OHS Regulation, legislation that takes precedence over the ANSI Standard.

For more information
ANSI Standard Z133.1-2006, American National Standard for Arboricultural Operations – Pruning, Repairing, Maintaining, and Removing Trees, and Cutting Brush – Safety Requirements
Jepson J. The Tree Climber’s Companion – A Reference and Training Manual for Professional Tree Climbers, 2nd edition. Beaver Tree Publishing, Minnesota; 2000

Subsection 793(2)

The purpose of this requirement is to involve those persons most knowledgeable about the work or processes being assessed, and who will be most affected by whatever actions are taken as a result of the assessment. Directly affected workers often have more insight into a job or task than persons who only observe the completed work.

Involving workers can

(a) increase the number of persons available to perform assessments, spreading out the work into manageable pieces,
(b) teach them how to recognize hazards, increasing the likelihood that the hazards will be quickly corrected, and
(c) increase their awareness of, and involvement in, health and safety issues at the work site.

Workers affected by the hazards identified in the hazard assessment need to know about those hazards and the methods that will be used to control or eliminate the hazards. They are the persons with the greatest potential to be affected by the hazards and they need to know if corrective measures will require them to do something.