ACTE COVID-19 Health and Safety Policy and Procedures


The information in this document will be distributed to every stakeholder involved in operations of Arboriculture Canada.  This includes every student, customer, site host, instructor, office worker etc. affiliated with Arboriculture Canada Training programs.

This plan defines safe operating procedures for Instructors, Assistants, Volunteers, Contractors, Employees, Students, Customers, Site Hosts and any other affiliates in planning, delivery and operation of training programs where there is risk of transmission of the COVID-19 virus.  This document shall be used in addition to the recommendations from provincial and federal health authorities.  The purpose of this document is to keep workers and the public safe while potentially exposed to the COVID-19 virus.

The scope of these protocols reaches geographically across Canada in all provinces where Arboriculture Canada Training business is conducted, in addition to the office and equipment storage locations.  Arboriculture Canada directors, instructors, assistants and employees must learn the provincial requirements prior to program delivery and adhere to them.  Additionally, the requirements and procedures may change over time, and we require all stakeholders to check back to these websites to check on updates and changes. 

This document states procedures that are common in all geographical areas, but there may be specific differences between provinces to be aware of.  The end of this document provides the web links to provincial information on workplace protocols that are in place provincially.

Please note that this document does not comprehensively define all information pertaining to the definitions and descriptions of Covid-19 and every symptom, treatment, preventative measure, risk and health mandates.  This information has been found to be fluid and changing frequently as more is learned about the spread of Covid-19, and as we do business in every province of Canada, we request all stakeholders to access the provincial or federal websites to confirm the most up to date information on these definitions and descriptions.


Directors and Office Support Staff

Arboriculture Canada requires all instructors to attend a Corona Virus online training session and sign a declaration of understanding to ensure familiarity with expectations for protecting contractors, employees, customers, students and affiliates from hazards associated with exposure to the Corona Virus infections within the workplace.  This training will include the Standard Operating Procedures for Course Delivery that instructors will be required to follow at every course event. 

Arboriculture Canada will ensure sanitization of the head office in Olds, AB.  All individuals who work in this office will be able to abide by physical distancing due to placement of work areas.  In addition, common use surfaces, washroom, light switches, door knobs, office furniture and equipment will be wiped down multiple times daily and before and after individual use when more than one person is working in the office.  Provision will be made for working from home if necessary, and will be encouraged when possible.

Arboriculture Canada will provide the following kit for each course, or provide the instructor with means to attain these items for each course.

  • Box of plastic gloves
  • Alcohol based hand sanitizer
  • Alcohol based hand wipes
  • Hand cleansing station for field sites that includes water bag and soap

Students / Customers

The students and customers of Arboriculture Canada, whether individuals, government organizations or private sector companies are responsible for their own health and safety for workers while workplace training is taking place.  Arboriculture Canada will request COVID-19 policies from our contract customers / site hosts and will share with our instructors prior to arrival for a training program.

All students and contract customer representatives will be sent a full equipment/gear and PPE (Personal protective equipment) list before courses.  We will be requesting all students to bring this gear to the courses. 

Every student and/or contract customer representative will be required to complete and sign a health self-assessment at the start of a course, or in writing prior to course delivery.  Individuals who are experiencing illness or possible symptoms of Covid-19 will be asked to not attend the course.

All students will be requested to follow the guidelines and protocols in this document.  If a student refuses to adhere as requested, the instructor has the right to request that student to leave the course.

Contract Instructors, Assistants and Volunteers

Arboriculture Canada instructors are contractors to Arboriculture Canada, and thereby are responsible for their own health and safety protocols related to COVID to protect themselves, including, but not limited to:  site preparation, course delivery, vehicle usage (including rental vehicles), air travel risks, hotel use and clean up after the course.  All contractors must have COVID health protocols documented and sent to ACTE for our records.  Instructors must carry and use his/her own equipment/gear and PPA pertaining to the course they are teaching, and additionally must provide and bring his/her own PPE for virus protection (face covering, hand sanitizer and/or wipes). 

All Individuals involved with Arboriculture Canada training programs

Any individual has the right to refuse unsafe work and the responsibility to adhere to all safety precautions and to report unsafe acts that may expose co-workers or the general public to risks associated with Corona virus infections.  Contractors, employees, customers and affiliates have the responsibility to stay home from work if they are displaying symptoms associated with a Corona Virus or have been notified that they have been in contact with someone infected with COVID-19.

Recognize hazards / assess risks

Arboriculture Canada delivers training to our customers with the use of indoor classroom/meeting spaces as well as outdoor field sites.  Our Instructors, contractors and staff will minimize risks where-ever possible during a training program.  Coronaviruses are spread mainly from person to person through close contact. For example, in a household, workplace, or health care center. Some human coronaviruses spread easily between people, while others do not. During the day, your hands touch many surfaces. Once contaminated, your hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose, or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and make you sick.

Arboriculture Canada uses the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health’s (NIOSH) Hierarchy of Controls developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Each course includes a site risk assessment.  As part of this process the instructor will include and cover the practices and expectations for minimizing the risk of infection from COVID-19 and review the policies in place during the delivery of the course.

MODEL: Applying the NIOSH Hierarchy of Controls When Dealing With COVID-19 

Arboriculture Canada and its contractors, instructors and staff will learn the symptoms of COVID-19 infection, recognize and report these hazards, use appropriate controls, and ensure that they will stay home if they have symptoms.

Arboriculture Canada and our instructors, contractors and staff recognize that we will have contact with people, including suppliers, customers and co-workers, as well as contact with surfaces, such as tools, equipment, machinery and surfaces within our vehicles and at the sites that we visit. We could potentially come in contact with droplets from these interactions. COVID-19 can travel in respiratory droplets that are released into the environment by laughing, coughing, heavy breathing or sneezing.

Sick or unwell individuals

Employees, Instructors, Students, Staff or Affiliates with symptoms such as cough, fever, shortness of breath, runny nose or sore throat symptoms must refrain from coming to work or on-site to a training session.  Refer to provincial recommendations (listed at the conclusion of this document) or the Public Health Agency of Canada for steps to take if you are experiencing these symptoms.

Emails will be sent to students one week in advance of all training programs with a self-assessment tool.  We ask each individual to print and fill them out within 24 hours in advance of the course and bring to the course.  If you do not complete this in advance and bring to the course, you will be required to complete a hard copy at the start of the course.

If any individual becomes sick while at work or on-site at a training program, they must go home and follow the recommendations from their provincial health organization or the Public Health Agency of Canada.  There are self-assessment tools available online on each provincial health website.  Instructors will be trained on how to manage situations at a training program where symptoms common to COVID-19 may be apparent and have the right to request an individual to complete a self-assessment and to leave a training program if they feel there is reason to suspect an individual may be infected.

Impact on Cancellation Policies – Open Enrollment

If Arboriculture Canada is unable to deliver an open enrollment course due to provincial or federal health mandates, site hosts cancelling use of their facilities, gathering restrictions or being deemed non-essential by governing bodies or other reasons out of the control of Arboriculture Canada, pre-paid registrants will receive an email with a new rescheduled date for their course.

The following guidelines will apply if this occurs:

  1. Pre-paid registrant is required to contact the Arboriculture Canada office to let us know if you can attend the newly scheduled dates within 2 weeks from the notification of the rescheduled course. 
  2. If you cannot attend the newly scheduled date, we will provide you a credit to be used for a future course for a 2 year time period from the original course date.  No refunds will be given.
  3. If you do not confirm attendance in the newly scheduled course, and subsequently notify us of not attending within 2 weeks before the course, no refunds or credits will be given.  This is due to the necessity of ACTE knowing how many students to plan for in the last 2 weeks before a course. 

If a student falls ill before a course and is unable to attend, he/she can send another person in his/her place, and notify the ACTE office in advance if possible.  If a replacement cannot be found, Arboriculture Canada will provide a credit (with no penalties) for a future course to be used within 2 years from the date of the program he/she was unable to attend due to COVID-19 illness or symptoms.  Full refunds will not be given.

If the cancellation of a student or course is NOT related to COVID-19 symptoms or health mandates, the cancellation policy as stated upon registration will remain in effect, which is no refunds or credits for notification of cancellation after 13 days before the course.

If an Arboriculture Canada instructor experiences any symptoms of COVID-19 prior to a course delivery he/she is required to declare these circumstances and to stay home.  Arboriculture Canada will endeavor to find a replacement.  If this is not possible, we will reschedule the course.  In this case, all prepaid monies will be transferred to the new course dates.  If a student is not able to attend the new dates, the monies will be transferred into a credit that can be used within 2 years from the date of the rescheduled course.

Impact on Cancellation Policies – Contract Courses

If a worker falls ill prior to a course, the contract customer will be encouraged to replace the sick person with another worker.  This is the responsibility of the customer/organization we are providing the training program for.

Cancellation or rescheduling of contract programs will not be encouraged if only 1 or 2 individuals are unable to attend, unless discussed with ACTE Sales Manager and agreed upon.  If a number of individuals are ill, we would encourage rescheduling for the benefit of all.  Cancellations will follow the terms in the contract agreement.  Rescheduling due to COVID-19 illness will be permitted with no penalty, however, it is possible that incurred travel costs due to rescheduling may be incurred by the contract customer.

If an Arboriculture Canada instructor experiences any symptoms of COVID-19 prior to a course delivery he/she is required to declare these circumstances and to stay home.  Arboriculture Canada will endeavor to find a replacement.  If this is not possible, we will reschedule the course for a mutually agreed upon date with the contract customer.

This will follow the agreed upon Force Majeure clause in all future contracts.

Methods to mitigate risks during training programs

For all face to face training programs, including seminars, workshops, conference events, training courses and office work, the following health and wellness protocols must be followed.  All working stakeholders with ACTE (instructors, assistants, volunteers, office personnel etc.) will be provided with a SOP document and required to sign this to verify understanding and compliance.  This document is more comprehensive than the following.  Please feel free to request a copy of this document.

  • All workers should wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizers (greater than 60% alcohol content).  Glove use alone is not a substitute for hand hygiene.  Hands should be cleaned before and after using gloves. 
  • Individuals should make every effort to cough or sneeze into a bent elbow and promptly dispose of used tissues in the trash.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Increase frequency of cleaning surfaces and work and personal vehicles.  Use an appropriate cleaner for wiping surfaces frequently.
  • Avoid close contact (within 2 meters) with anyone showing symptoms of a respiratory illness, such as coughing or sneezing.
  • Consider alternative forms of greeting someone other than shaking hands, fist bumping or giving ‘high fives’.
  • Practice healthy habits such as eating well, exercising, and getting enough rest to help support your immune system.
  • Practice social distancing of 2 meters or 6 ft at all times.  (described in more detail below)


All indoor classroom training sites will have washrooms available.  Attendees are responsible to implement personal sanitization for his/her own protection during and after using the washroom, and are requested to ensure they have washed their hands and/or used the hand sanitizer available.  We will continue to endeavor to use field sites where washrooms and/or port-a-potties are available and will provide hand sanitizing stations (water and soap).   

Physical Distancing / Classroom and Field Site Requirements

All instructors and students must practice physical distancing (staying 2 meters away from others) during classroom and field training.

Classroom / Meeting spaces:  We will request our customers and site hosts to provide a classroom that allows for physical distancing of all individuals (a minimum of 2 meters between people). 

Field site training will allow for physical distancing to be maintained. 

There will be circumstances during field site hand’s on learning when an instructor may need to come closer to a student to assist a student with ensuring that safety controls are in place before he/she ascends to a height or operates equipment.  (‘elbow to elbow’ tasks)  For example:  ensuring a climbing system, harness, knots etc. are configured properly and set up so that safety is ensured when a student climbs into an aerial position.   The instructor will request permission from the student to approach, masks/face coverings should be worn if permission is given.  If a student does not give permission, the instructor retains the right to disallow the student from operating the equipment or proceeding with climbing or ascending to a height.  The safety of all students continues to be a priority in the learning environment.  If ‘elbow to elbow’ tasks are required between students, it must be discussed first with the instructor and between participants.

Arboriculture Canada instructors will be trained in management of group activities using the following strategies:

  • Introduce any field hand’s on learning activities by requesting attendees to wear gloves (work gloves or plastic disposable gloves) when sharing ropes, gear etc. between attendees. 
  • Remind attendees not to touch their face while using gloves, and to discard plastic gloves safely.
  • Promote safe distancing when demonstrating techniques for students.  Encourage respect of individuals in protecting themselves from infection. 
  • Encourage use of hand sanitizing stations
  • Wear mask, buff or alternate face covering when working around others, or at the request of an attendee

For the protection of the public during field training, Arboriculture Canada instructors place signage or tape around the training area to ensure that the public does not wander into the space where the training takes places. 

Handling Paper

Arboriculture Canada will minimize the use of paper at courses by the following methods:

  • All course workbooks, certificate packages and course handouts will be emailed to student.  Students can either access them digitally during the course or print their own copy.
  • Registration processes will be executed without the sharing of pens and paper. 

Gear / Equipment

We request all attendees of training programs to bring his/her own PPA – Personal Protective Apparel.  This includes hard hat/helmet, eye and ear protection, gloves, chainsaw chaps and footwear.  If an attendee does not bring this gear, they will be unable to participate in field activities.

We will also be encouraging and requesting all attendees/students to bring all the gear and equipment pertaining to the domain / course that they are taking to minimize the use of common gear and equipment being shared between students.  (a full list will be sent to all customers in advance) Tools and equipment should not be shared between workers if possible.  One worker is to be assigned to each tool for a period of use, which could be a few minutes to a few hours.  If tools must be shared, tools will be sanitized before and after each use. 

Arboriculture Canada will bring extra gear and equipment to courses, including chainsaws.  We will be increasing the sanitization of contact points of these items before, during and after course events.  We encourage all students to bring his/her own hand wipes and hand sanitizers and to wipe down gear that is borrowed before and after use.  If gear is being shared during a course, we also request attendees to wear gloves (work gloves or disposable gloves) for added protection.

Arboriculture Canada instructors will be trained in management of group activities using the following strategies:

  • Introduce any field hand’s on learning activities by requesting attendees to wear gloves (work gloves or plastic disposable gloves) when sharing ropes, gear etc. between attendees.
  • Remind attendees not to touch their face while using gloves, and to discard plastic gloves safely.
  • Promote safe distancing when demonstrating techniques for students.  Encourage respect of individuals in protecting themselves from infection.
  • Encourage use of hand sanitizing stations
  • Wear mask, buff or alternate face covering when working around others, or at the request of an attendee.

Arboriculture Canada will have available the following items for student use if students neglect to bring their own:

  • Plastic gloves
  • Hand sanitizing station (water and soap)
  • Hand sanitizer / disinfectant spray bottle
  • Disinfecting wipes

Disinfecting / Cleaning Tools and Equipment

Regular tool cleansing when there is no suspected case of COVID-19 can be accomplished using a soap and water solution, or a commercially available disinfecting hand towel wipe, or by a disinfecting wash. Refer to the below recommendations on how to clean and disinfect tools and equipment.  Arboriculture Canada Training and Education instructors will use manufacturer’s instructions to prevent possible damage to the equipment and any required personal protective equipment (PPE) for the worker. Consider escalating the cleansing protocol in both the frequency and the disinfecting method when more people are expected to touch the tool.

When a participant has been discovered to have symptoms of COVID-19, the tools and equipment that the worker recently used will be isolated from further use, cleaned, and disinfected.

Isolate tools and equipment

• Identify tools and equipment that the participant was recently using.

• Isolate these tools and equipment for cleansing and disinfecting.

• Use PPE such as gloves and coveralls to move the tools and equipment, and wash or dispose of the PPE after use.

Cleansing and disinfecting

• If tool are contaminated Arboriculture Canada Training and Education instructors will disinfect them.

  • As more is learned about the COVID-19 virus, new disinfection guidelines may become available that can specify how long the virus can live on surfaces, and if it is appropriate to set equipment aside for a period as a disinfectant procedure.

How to clean and disinfect tools and equipment

1. Protect from the possible transfer of germs to yourself by wearing PPE. Wear PPE such as waterproof gloves for your hands and face shield and mask to protect your eyes, face, and mouth. Wear coveralls to protect your clothing.

2. Make sure all power is off and disconnected on power tools and equipment. Read the manufacturer’s directions for cleaning to avoid possible damage from liquids and chemicals.

3. Clean surface with soap and water to remove all visible debris and stains, and some of the germs.

4. Follow labeled instructions and safety data sheets on all containers of cleansing products you use.

5. Many disinfecting products are available to buy; however, they may be difficult to obtain under extreme demand. Typical recommendation is to allow surface to remain wet for 5-10 minutes. Rinse thoroughly, and air dry.

6. Remove disposable PPE and discard. Remove coveralls and place in a bag for washing in a bleach wash as per the bleach manufacturer’s guidance.

7. Wash your hands after removing all PPE. In addition to isolating and cleansing tools and equipment, inform all parties of the protocols, and which tools and equipment are in isolation. Store enough cleaning and disinfesting solutions on site to deal with expected demand.

Manufacturers have posted tips and best practices for keeping your equipment clean.  ACTE has created a helpful summary consisting of samples from manufacturers of arborist tools for cleaning their products. 


It is the responsibility of students and companies who are taking the training programs to manage and monitor their own modes of transportation and the safety factors involved with car pooling to attend the course.  All companies and workplaces should have protocols in place that stipulate guidelines for vehicle travel.

Arboriculture Canada instructors have the right to refuse vehicle transportation to students and customers if he/she feels it is unsafe to do so.  In all cases if an instructor is required to share a vehicle with someone who does not live in his/her household, we encourage him/her to wear face protection.  Instructors traveling together in a vehicle must respect the request for face protection of the other person.  Each instructor is required to provide his/her own face mask and/or buff to protect respiration while in close spaces.

Student / Instructor Ratio’s

Although Arboriculture Canada has always maintained low student to instructor ratio’s, it is possible that these ratio’s may be even lower in order to both comply with gathering requirements in the provincial health mandates, as well as to mitigate the risk of spreading the virus.  We will be adhering to the provincial gathering requirements where the courses are taking place.  In some provinces, this means group sizes of 5 or less (including the instructors) and up to 15 or less.  This may impact the cost of training over time depending on whether or not (and when) these restrictions are lifted.


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