Arborist Safety Tips for Tree Work
Work-related injuries result in about $170 billion of expenses for businesses each year. The pain and frustration of a work-related injury is only the beginning, with the worker’s compensation process exacerbating an already stressful situation.
When it comes to arborist safety, one of the best ways to reduce workplace injuries is to ensure each employee has the proper equipment and tools. It’s very important for workers to be properly trained to handle equipment, stressful situations, and anything else that may occur.
Necessary Safety Gear
Arborists in the field must deal with heavy equipment, power lines, and much more while working on trees. Having the necessary gear is essential to completing a job safely.
While arborists likely have personal preferences when it comes to ropes and hitch cords, there’s no room for debate when it comes to having equipment that meets the safety requirements for climbers. These options include 12-strand, 16-strand ropes, 24 stand, and static ropes. A climbers preference may change depending on their climbing system , but make sure your choice is guaranteed to keep you safe.
Another important piece of safety equipment is the climber’s helmet. When dealing with heights, helmets must always be worn. While hard hats might suffice for someone working on the ground, a climber’s helmet also protects the sides and back of the head.
Additional safety gear that should always be required includes eye protection, ear muffs, climbing gloves, and clothing that protect against chainsaws.
Tree Trimming Safety Tips
Tree work can be dangerous. Consider the following tips to ensure arborist safety during jobs:
1. Complete an assessment before you begin
One of the best ways to ensure arborist safety is to complete a pre-work assessment. Every job may require different gear or a different strategy. The necessary strategy and gear may even differ from tree to tree on the same job. Higher climbs will require fall protection harnesses or even an aerial lift. If a ladder is needed for the job, it will have to be tied off on a sturdy branch.
Equipment inspection should be a part of every pre-work assessment and the process should be repeated once the job is finished. Arborists can’t afford to work with harnesses, ropes, and carabiners that aren’t in great condition.
Don’t be afraid to reschedule a job if you are worried about safety. Wind, rain, or ice could put an arborist at risk, especially if the job includes aerial access or climbing.
Operate efficiently and safely.
2. Don’t overlook rope color
It might not be a primary concern for arborists, but rope color should not be overlooked. Ropes are an important aspect of arborist safety during a job. If a rope fails or is accidentally cut, it could damage equipment or even result in serious injury or death.
When it’s time to buy ropes, make sure to pick colors that stand out during a job. Pink, yellow, orange, or other bright fluorescent colors can really make a difference. Mistakes are bound to happen if the ropes blend in with the tree or foliage. Select your rope color depending on the job at hand.
3. Check for weak branches before you climb
This safety tip can be incorporated into the pre-work assessment, but arborists must pay attention as they climb trees during the job. Split, weak, or dead branches should never be used for support. If you encounter branches like these as you climb, make sure to break them or cut them off immediately.
Failing to properly assess branch integrity could lead to accidents. Even if the branches seem sturdy, it’s best to climb slowly and only move one step at a time. Additionally, try not to put all your weight on a single branch. Distributing your weight evenly will reduce the risk of breaking a branch.
If the tree itself is dead or unsafe, an aerial lift might be the best choice for the job. If using an aerial lift, always remember to utilize proper fall production P.P.E. while operating.
4. Don’t mess with power lines
This arborist safety tip might seem obvious, but there are certain guidelines to follow to ensure worker safety on jobs near power lines. The first step is to avoid using conductive tools near power lines. Pole trimmers, ladders, and a variety of other tools fall into this category. Treat all power lines as if they are live. Even downed power lines can seriously injure or kill workers.
In addition to using the proper tools, workers should always keep a good distance from power lines. If it’s absolutely necessary to get close to power lines to complete the job, contact the utility company before proceeding. They can cover the lines with insulated hoses and you can safely complete the job.
5. Don’t work alone
If you have to climb a tree for a job, make sure to have another worker on the ground. This worker can assist you if you run into problems and can even save you in the event of an emergency. Arborists should always be trained in first aid and CPR just in case.