OHS Code Explanation Guide

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

Section 792 Application

This Part applies to arboriculture activities that involve pruning, repairing, maintaining or removing trees or cutting brush if a worker works at height and depends on the tree for support. For consistency with the fall protection limits of Part 9, Fall Protection, “work at height” means that

(a) a worker may fall 3 metres or more, or
(b) a worker falling a lesser distance is subject to an unusual risk of injury.

Situations involving an “unusual risk of injury” may include work performed above moving water, operating machinery, retaining walls, objects onto which a worker could be impaled, etc. The resulting injury may be worse than an injury from landing on a solid, flat surface.

These criteria and this Part only applies to situations in which the worker depends on the tree for support. This typically involves the use of ropes, connecting hardware, harnesses, and accessories. For workers performing tree care activities out of an elevated work platform or similar equipment, the requirements of Part 9 must be met.

Readers must keep in mind that other requirements of the OHS Code apply to tree care operations, not just this Part. For example:

(1) connecting components such as carabiners must meet the requirements of subsection 143 and life safety rope must meet the requirements of section 147. The nature of tree care work – seamlessly and constantly switching from work positioning to fall protection to work positioning – requires a high level of safety. These requirements therefore apply even though the worker’s rigging is used as a fall protection system for only brief periods of time during work at height;

(2) sections 225 through 227 deal with work in and around overhead power lines. The stated safe limit of approach distances must be respected;

(3) section 234 states requirements for protective headwear. Because of the nature of the work, tree care workers will almost always require headwear that incorporates lateral impact protection. Readers are referred to the explanation to section 234 for a discussion of headwear protection. Tree care workers who use mountaineering style helmets as protective headwear should pay particular attention to the information presented under the subtitle “Comments about the year of the ANSI Standard”; and

(4) section 242 deals with the need for employers to ensure that where there is a possibility of injury, a worker wears appropriate hand, arm, leg or body protective equipment. In the case of tree care activities, chain saws are used widely and therefore appropriate chain saw pants must be worn.

Many other requirements throughout the OHS Code similarly apply to tree care operations.