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British Christmas Tree Growers Association

  
  

COVID-19 Risk Assessment for Work in Christmas Trees

Risk Assessment for Work in Christmas Trees. 30th March 2020

Background
On 23rd March the Government took steps to prohibit gatherings of more than two persons, together with travelling to all but essential work, food and medical purchases.
What is the Government Objective?
To limit or avoid contact with other persons to minimise the potential for virus spread in the wider community.
Confor Interpretation
Confor, the trade body representing all forestry interests issued this note on 30th March which has relevance to the Christmas tree sector.
COVID-19 AND WORKERS IN THE FORESTRY, WOOD PROCESSING AND NURSERIES SECTOR
The UK Government has provided clear guidance that “with the exception of some non-essential shops andpublic venues, we are not asking any other businesses to close, indeed it is important for business to carry on.” The planting, management and harvesting of trees is a largely rural industry, as is the growing of young trees in forest nurseries. In our daily working lives, there is limited interaction with other people, and the sector is committed to working safely in accordance with government guidelines for employers and businesses on coronavirus (COVID-19)*, including social distancing, and in accordance with all existing health and safety standards.
Where workers can work from home they should. However, many forestry workers simply cannot work from home - including those growing young trees in nurseries and planting new forests and woods. In the longer-term, those young trees will be needed to help many businesses get back on their feet and, lest we forget, to support our ongoing climate change objectives.
Working Profile
Management of Christmas trees
Is this Work Essential?
The UK Christmas tree sector is valued at around £300 million per annum at retail prices. They are a high value crop with each hectare of 7,000 trees valued in excess of a quarter of a million pounds at retail value. However, the public demand high quality, green and bushy trees, and this requires regular and timely management, without which most trees would become unsalable through lack of nutrition, poor shape and disfigurement through pest and disease attack. In terms of national priorities, the crop is possibly not essential, but daily management operations can be justified providing working practice ensures personal isolation in accordance with government advice.
Is this Work Likely to Conform with Government Objectives?
We believe so, providing that contact with other persons follows the 2m rule and the plantations have no public access during working operations.
What Procedures are to be Followed to Minimise Contact with others?
1. Contact with staff and instructions to be by email or telephone prior to work wherever possible.
2. Staff to walk alone, or travel to fields in separate vehicles.
3. Equipment surfaces handled by more than one person to be wiped with alcohol gel before & after use.
4. Where several staff are working in a field, then plan for each to to work in separate areas of the plantation.
5. Any food and drink to be sourced from home, and staff to isolate themselves during working breaks.
6. Should any inadvertent or unexpected contact be made with others, then social distancing of 2m will be adhered to.
7. All fuel purchases to be undertaken only at fuel stations with at pump credit card facilities using disposable gloves at the pump, and alcohol gel hand rub prior to exiting.
8. Hands and nails to be washed with soap & water (or alcohol gel if this is not possible) prior to driving home, and immediately on return to home.
Colin Palmer. BASIS Reg. No R/0/342/B/2. 30th March 2020