ARB approval: why it should matter

25th October 2019

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Last year 5.1 million children took their GCSE exams in the UK, just less than 760,000 took A-levels, around 400,000 gained an undergraduate degree and approximately 23,000 a doctoral degree. I think it’d be fair for us to assume that the doctoral level graduate will have a far better grasp of their chosen subject than they had at GCSE level. And that’s the essence of ARB approval in the tree surgery world – it’s a hard-won accreditation, achieved over a period of time, to evidence a level of knowledge and excellence far above the average. So, the next time you’re considering who should look after your trees, think whether you’d like the equivalent of a ‘GCSE level’ tree surgeon or a ‘doctoral level’ one.

ARB Approval in a nutshell
The ARB Approved Contractor (ArbAC) scheme is run by the Arboricultural Association (AA), international leaders in arboricultural best practice, and is the only comprehensive accreditation scheme for tree surgeons in the UK. Just less than 2% of the country’s 20,000 firms have been awarded this accolade because qualification requirements and expected standards are so high. Essentially they are the best of the best in our field with expectations of excellence in:

  • Operations, knowledge and work standards
  • Health and safety compliance and training
  • Customer care
  • Compliance with environmental practices
  • Training and development

Beyond this, ARB Approved Contractors must show that they have all the required insurances (including Public Liability, Employers’ Liability and Professional Indemnity), hold suitable qualifications, work in compliance with British Standard BS 3998:2010 and uphold best practices across the business.

Accreditation is only the first step
If you believe that accreditation is some kind of ‘pay-to-play’ qualification, think again. This is a qualification that is only given out to those who follow the association’s regimented process and requires long-term adherence to stringent rules and compliance with all regulations and legislations for the field. And when we say long term, we really mean forever, because ARB Approved Contractors are also subject to periodic reassessments to make sure that standards are maintained and new industry legislations are being adhered to. So, your ArbAC contractor will be as worthy of the AA’s approval today as the day they were awarded the accolade.

Customer peace of mind
While not expected to happen often, should a customer be unhappy with an ARB Approved Contractor’s work, the AA are there to help with mediation. It is in the association’s interest to ensure that their approved contractors maintain the highest of quality standards so they not only would want to know if they fall short, but also to investigate any suspected lapse by a contractor they had previously approved.

A word from the AA about Thor’s Trees
“Lawrence, it’s an absolute pleasure to have you onboard and I know you’ll be a fantastic ambassador for the scheme and for the association going forward, so I’m really looking forward to working with you, working with your colleagues and your business.” Paul Smith, Manager of the ArbAC scheme

I can tell you, without a shadow of a doubt, becoming an ARB Approved Contractor was by far the most difficult challenge I’ve faced as an arborist to date. However, because of the support and guidance the Arboricultural Association offers us, the confidence it gives to our customers that we’ve been independently assessed and found worthy, and to be acknowledged as being among the top 2% in our profession, it was well worth all the hard work.

And so, to summarise:

An arborist is a better qualified tree surgeon   An arborist has passed exams, obtained a number of years of experience and is a specialist in the health and wellbeing of trees.
An ARB Approved Contractor is the best of the best   Fewer than 2% of all tree surgeons are currently approved.
Regular reassessment   ARB approval requires you to maintain standards and expect periodic reassessment.
Choose an ArbAC contractor   If you see ArbAC next to a company’s name, then that means they’re an ARB Approved Contractor.

To book a free survey and consultation with one of our ARB Approved arborists for advice on your trees or to book our tree surgeons to prune/maintain or fell your tree(s), call us on 0208 292 8992.

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