Tree risk assessment and site supervision is becoming a job assignment for technicians as consulting arborists are consumed by larger projects in development, strategic planning and inventory management. If you are on the cusp of being assigned to tree risk assessments and investigations (or have already started), mentoring might not be available in your workplace to prepare you for what’s coming. For all the content that is presented during tree risk assessor training, gaps are inevitable based on the unique scope of work that comes to your workplace. Assessment tools are discussed to some extent in risk assessor training although I haven’t found those details to be sufficiently elaborated.
Having the right gear is a big benefit if you wish to consistently and efficiently produce high quality information from your site visits.
Having your tools assembled in one place and ready to go quickly is one easy way to improve your performance and experience in the field. When I’m dispatched to an investigation or tree risk assessment, I can grab my backpack and binder and walk straight to my truck feeling confident that I have everything I need to do a thorough job collecting information. My preference is for gear that can either pack into my vest, attach to my belt, hang around my neck and in general be light weight and compact. This lightweight approach is ideal for many situations, but not all situations. Advanced (ANSI: Level 3) tree risk assessments and remedial actions are going to require some heavier and less-portable tools.
The range of situations you may be sent to is vast -- come prepared with all that is required for most situations.
The quality of your measurements can make a big difference when the time comes for decisions to be made on risk management actions. Some situations offer a very short window to capture information; return visits may not be practical or possible. Consider the need for measuring proximity, crown spread, critical root zones, tree defect dimensions, height of tree, height of defect, distance between tree and ground disturbance, and distance of tree from target.
Having a few key tools can save a trip back to the shop, prevent the temptation of cutting corners, and provide a great deal more depth to your site information.
These items contribute to preparedness, comfort and efficiency.
Binder (or clipboard)
Most of your references and fillable forms or spreadsheets are available anytime, anywhere on your tablet or phone presenting big efficiency benefits when you need to convert your site information to reporting. I’ve heard plenty of stories of technology letdowns from my colleagues and experienced it myself enough times to know that having some analog options on hand might be the difference between a less productive day and having to return to site later (which may not be possible). Paper references, notepads and pencils are more resistant to spontaneous shutdown and data loss, loss of cellular connection, dead batteries and so on. When it comes to interacting with others on jobsites and making interim recommendations, I find paper copies of industry standards, best management practices, bylaws, etc. to be taken seriously as compared to viewing them over a tablet or phone.