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When you hire a non-licensed tree worker, they may be severely injured or even killed!
Tree Expert and Tree Care Operators Licensing Act
Q. Is this a new licensing program?
A. Not exactly. The current legislation updates an existing certification program originally passed in 1940 overseen by the NJ Board of Tree Experts in the Department of Environmental Protection.
Q. Why was this legislation proposed?
A. There has been a substantial increase in the number of fatalities in the industry, unresolved consumer complaints and poor workmanship over the past ten years.
Q. Does my business have to be licensed?
A. No, only individuals are licensed under the proposed legislation but any business that engages in tree care services within the State must register with the Board.
Q. Does everyone who works on trees have to be licensed?
A. No, only one person in each tree care company has to hold a license.
Q. How do you get a license?
A. Licenses are obtainable in several ways. A license can be issued to; an individual who provides documentation that he/she has been engaged in the tree care industry for the seven years preceding the effective date of the legislation, an individual who holds a substantially equivalent certification from another jurisdiction or an individual who receives a passing grade on a licensing examination administered by the Board.
Q. The tree care industry is very varied and I only do tree removal and stump grinding. What kind of knowledge will the examination test?
A. The legislation actually proposes two types of licenses, one that’s for standard tree care work like pruning, removals and stump grinding and one that’s for more specialized work and knowledge such as tree risk assessment, tree appraisals and consultations.
Q. Why two types of licenses? Why not just one?
A. Two types of licenses does not burden those individuals who want to continue to do standard tree care work by mandating that they become knowledgeable in other areas in which they do not provide services. Consequently, those who wish to do specialized tree care work or those who have already demonstrated their knowledge through the existing certification program can be recognized as competent in those areas. Two types of licenses is the fairest way to differentiate between the two disciplines.
Q. What do I have to do to maintain my license?
A. Similar to other licensing programs in the State, tree license holders must pay a renewal fee every two years and obtain continuing education units that pertain to arboriculture and tree care operations.
Q. Does a registered business have any other obligation besides registering with the State?
A. Registered businesses will have to abide by adopted industry standards and provide safety training to their employees on a regular basis.
Summary of Licensed Tree Expert Legislation
Problem: Statistics show the tree care industry has fatal accidents at 10 times the average for all industries. New Jersey has had 19 fatalities in the last 8 years (2000-2007) 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.
Legislation: The proposed legislation will require 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.
Enactment of this legislation 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.
Problem: 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.
Legislation: The proposed legislation 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.
Enactment of this legislation 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.
Problem: 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.
Legislation: The legislation 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.