Trenton, NJ (January 27, 2010)- New legislation in New Jersey seeks to address some problems within the tree care industry including a high rate of fatal accidents, unscrupulous business practices, and poor quality tree work that puts the public in danger.
1. Statistics show the tree care industry has fatal accidents at 10 times the average for all industries. In New Jersey, this has led to 41 fatalities in the last 10 years (2000-2009) and countless serious injuries. The lack of proper employee training and companies doing tree care work as a secondary part of their business are major reasons for the accidents.
New legislation requires businesses doing tree care work to register with the Department of Environmental Protection, Board of Tree Experts (Board), and train their employees in the safe operation of equipment and the maintenance of a safe work area. This law will allow the Board to identify and communicate directly to all companies doing tree care work and provide opportunities for worker safety information and materials to be disseminated. The training requirement will ensure that employees have regular safety instruction and bring about the reduction of injuries and fatalities to tree care workers.
2. Also, the public is being cheated by unscrupulous companies doing tree care work, many of which are not classified as tree care companies. The Better Business Bureau’s 2002 report card showed that tree care ranked in the top 8% in the complaint category and that disputes were resolved at a D-minus rating. The law requires that businesses be registered and allows for the Board to suspend or revoke business registrations, individual licenses or to initiate proceedings for civil penalties.
This law will give consumers an effective method to resolve complaints by requiring tree care company registration and empowering the Board to take action. Registration will allow the Board to communicate directly to registered firms to resolve complaints or problems. They will be able to remedy complaints against both registered and unregistered tree care companies that are uncooperative or seek to defraud the public by revoking business registrations or instituting civil penalties.
3. Finally, poor quality tree work is being done throughout New Jersey that puts the public in danger, both now and in the future and shortens the lifespan and benefits derived from trees.
The law requires companies to have at least one person be licensed, allows the Board to adopt industry standards, requires licensed individuals to obtain continuing education units and creates remedies to address companies or individuals that do substandard work. The licensing provision will help create a better trained and more knowledgeable work force and continuing education will keep tree experts abreast of new techniques, equipment and research findings. The adoption and enforcement of standards will improve tree health and longevity and decrease the creation of hazardous trees in the long run.
Other highlights of the Tree Experts and Tree Care Operators Licensing Act include:
* The Act repeals the “tree expert act” (1940) and provides a new licensing scheme for tree care providers. It establishes the titles “Licensed Tree Expert” and “Licensed Tree Care Operator”
* The Act re-establishes a “Board of Tree Experts” in the DEP with increased membership from 3 to 9 members.
* The Act establishes minimum qualifications to take the examinations and identifies specific tree services that each title can perform.
* The Act requires that at least 1 person in each company hiring itself out to perform tree care services be licensed.
* The Act requires minimum continuing education units be earned prior to re-issuance of the license.
* The Act stipulates that tree care companies register with the board and provide instruction and training on safe use of equipment and safe working procedures at the work site.
* The Act requires proof of liability insurance and workers compensation insurance.
* The Act permits the Board after notice and hearing to suspend or revoke a license, and/or revoke or suspend a registration of a tree care business due to cause.
* The Act permits the Board to levy fines for violations.
For more information, contact:
Michael V. D’Errico
501 East State Street
Trenton, NJ 08625
Tree Experts and Tree Care Operators Licensing Act
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