AA Assessment Guide: How to become an approved Arboriculturist?

When the AA inspectors arrive at tree surgeon’s premises they will spend a few hours going through the office filing and procedures checking that all is in order. Once the inspectors are satisfied with the tree company’s office procedures the company manager or owner will take them to a live tree work site so they can inspect and monitor all the tree surgery work being undertaken, again ensuring that it is carried out to the exact standards that are expected of an Arboricultural Association Approved Tree Surgeon.

Everything is checked, from the location of the designated fuelling area to the way the vehicles are parked on site. Particular interest is taken in the site paperwork, which will include all generic and site-specific job and risk assessments relevant to the day and site conditions. They will interview the tree care staff on-site, asking any number of questions regarding day-to-day tree care tasks. One question that often crops up is who the designated rescuer for that day? This is very important as if, in the worst-case scenario, the climber was to become injured, there must be a concise plan for the rescue to be undertaken as quickly as possible.

Once satisfied with the site work activity, the inspectors will continue to look at examples of previous work. After visiting each tree worksite the manager must show the paper trail to that particular job, right from the quotation to the invoice and including the risk assessment for the work that was carried out. Usually, at least five examples are reviewed but if not completely satisfied with the work and finished standards, they may want to see more.

Every aspect of the Tree Surgeon’s activities are scrutinised by the inspectors

The last area to be assessed is the yard and workshops. No stone is left unturned and a thorough inspection of everything you use or is stored at the place of work is checked. All electrical equipment must have valid certificates for safe use including compressors, chainsaws etc.

Once the AA assessment is completed the inspectors will discuss their findings, good and bad, and give you a provisional pass or fail, which will be backed up in writing along with a full written report of any problems or small changes that need to be made in order to satisfy the criteria. In total there are approximately 300 points to be checked throughout the day of the assessment. As you can imagine, it can be a very stressful day and also the build-up to that day is very stressful too, though once approved the key is to keep all systems in place and well maintained so that the next inspection will be routine and straight forward.