Managing the risk of trees on school grounds
Your trees may be a risk to students, staff and the public on schools ground – here’s how to limit that risk
Between 5 and 6 people are killed by falling trees & branches most years. Also after the recent fining of Newcastle City Council after the unfortunate death of Ella Henderson after the collapse of a willow tree at her school, Gosforth Park First School on September 25, 2020, this has re-focused all schools to make sure they are monitoring the risks that trees on school grounds pose so that incident such as this don’t happen again.
Schools should make sure the trees on school grounds are not a health and safety threat by:
- Doing regular inspections – regular inspections should make sure any danger signs are found early and managed appropriately.
- Maintain your trees and plants – Regular maintenance of your trees and plants can reduce the likelihood of them becoming a future health and safety concern.
- Remove trees or plants a soon as necessary –In cases where a tree is deemed to be too risky to salvage, its complete removal may become necessary. It is crucial to carry out this task promptly once the risk has been identified.
- Education –Teach children about both the potential hazards and benefits of trees and make sure they understand why they should not approach any trees that could pose a health and safety risk.
- Carry out a regular tree risk assessment for your school estate –Following these three steps will assist you in creating a strategy to prevent trees from posing a danger to your staff and students. It will also provide a framework for addressing any potential worst-case scenarios.
Make an assessment of the hazards
A proficient individual should perform the tree hazard assessment. It is their responsibility to identify the tree’s location, thoroughly evaluate the potential hazards to the best of their ability, and precisely record their findings.
Risk assessments should be conducted every one-to-two years for educational sites as the risk is considered to be high. These assessments should involve a quick but meticulous examination of the tree, especially in the crown and around the base, to identify any visible defects. All trees categorized as high or medium risk should be documented, with their locations plotted on a site plan. Sound trees that pass formal inspection do not require any recorded documentation of their condition.
Propose remedial action
Prescribing remedial actions is the sole responsibility of a proficient individual. Proposals and priorities must be accurately documented to ensure that a specialist can easily comprehend the requirements. Remedial actions will be determined based on a comprehensive assessment of the hazards and risks posed by the tree.