June Safety & Assurance bulletin

About to start work?

Occasionally we get incidents of unauthorised work and unlicensed felling and reports of contractors starting work with  no instruction or clear go ahead from the Tilhill manager.

Often this was well meant, such as trying to get a head start or sometimes there were the challenges of keeping machines working.

Confirmation from a manager must always be received BEFORE you start ANY work.

For all harvesting work the pre-commencement meeting must be completed, with information on site discussions and signatures to confirm understanding recorded on the pre- commencement meeting checklist form.

Here are some reminders why it is important to wait for a clear instruction to start work and holding the pre-commencement meeting.

Client authorisation

We may be waiting for a client to authorise the work. We need this authorisation to confirm the instruction to proceed.

No one gets paid if a client hasn’t authorised the work!

Regulatory authorisation

Often we are planning work and preparing documentation to proceed while waiting on regulatory authorisations. This includes:

  • A licence to fell.
  • Planning consent.
  • Consent to work near or in a sensitive site or where there may be protected species.

These may be delayed and while this is frustrating we cannot proceed without the written consent and conditions of work from bodies like NRW, Environment Agency, NatureScot or Natural England.

Starting work without consent is breaking the law.

Consultation with neighbours

While we usually start this early on when planning work, there may be times when we are waiting on resolution or agreement from neighbours or other interested parties.

If you start work without agreement, work may be stopped, more delays will occur and associated costs significant!

For Harvesting – areas to be felled

The pre-commencement meeting is the opportunity to check the coupe boundaries, make certain that they are clear and as identified on the map associated with the Felling Licence.

We have Tilhill guidance on marking boundaries and our managers can find this in the Guidance Note: Marking harvesting coupe boundaries (GN90 Marking harvesting coupe boundaries v2). Once boundaries are marked and before commencing any harvesting, contractors and all operatives who will be on site must be made aware of coupe boundaries. Starting work without this information and instruction runs the risk of an unlicensed felling event.

Felling trees in an coupe without a licence to fell is illegal.

Therefore, as a final check, have you got the following:

  • Tilhill Work Instruction or Harvesting Contractor Instruction Order.
  • Risk Assessment (site specific).
  • A hung up tree plan for any chainsaw work.
  • Emergency Response Card (and Site Safety Rules for harvesting work).
  • Clear Hazard and Constraints Map.
  • Copy of Felling Licence and approved map.
  • Boundaries marked on site and clear to all operatives on site.
  • COSHH Assessments (where, for example, chemicals, oils or pesticides are in use).
  • Diffuse Pollution Plan (for sites of high risk of diffuse pollution).

And finally, clear communication from the Tilhill Manager that work can start.