Advice on hiring tree work contractors
Pruning trees at any height or using dangerous tools are jobs where you should only consider using a skilled tree surgeon or arboriculturalist. As well as the safety aspect there is also the need to be confident that the operations being undertaken are in the best interest of the trees.
The operatives should be using the correct safety equipment for the task in hand.
Hiring the right person
One of the best place to find a suitable contractor is in the Arboricultural Association's register of approved contractors http://www.trees.org.uk/ or telephone 01242 - 522152. They will be able to supply you with a list of firms in the local area which meets their high professional standards. The web site offers many other useful pieces of advice for you to consider.
Another recognised body is the International Society of Arboriculture.
Reputation is also a good indicator. Most good, professional firms pride themselves on their reputation by word of mouth and work very hard to maintain it. You also have the benefit of being able to inspect previous works done for friends or family.
Avoid firms that promote 'Topping & Lopping' in their advertisements, as these are very outmoded terms and may reflect a lack of knowledge of modern arboricultural techniques or general good tree management. Remember a badly pruned tree will always look like a badly pruned tree, you have to live with it!
Look for firms that work to British Standard 3998:2010 Recommendations for Tree Work. This British Standard ensures precise and sound pruning techniques that promote safe and healthy pruning.
Look for firms that have had their employees NPTC (National Proficiency Tests Council) assessed. This means their skill has been certified by the body that assesses competence in tree works.
Ensure that the firm is suitably insured to work on your property. A minimum of £1million pound public & products liability cover is adequate although £5 million is ideal, in addition to employers liability insurance.
If a company states they are ‘local authority approved, check with the relevant local authority that they are. We do not provide an approved list.
Ask lots of questions. You will get a good idea of how well a contractor knows his subject by how willing he is to give sound answers for your queries.
Good firms will always check if the tree they are working on is protected by a tree preservation order or if it is protected by a conservation area. Are they prepared to submit an application to us on your behalf as part of their business service to you?
Ensure that they will dispose of the debris legally and have the appropriate ‘waste transfer licence’. You may be faced with a heavy fine if fly-tipped material is traced back to you.
If the contractors are working on a boundary tree you will need to notify your neighbour of the works as the entry of the operatives, even into their airspace will technically constitute a trespass.
Be sure that if you have a contractor working on a protected tree, they have the appropriate permission in writing if they have been your agents in the application process. Ask them to provide you with a copy of the council’s letter for your records.
Remember! Never put yourself or others at risk - Leave it to the professionals.