Working safely at height

New products designed to improve safety for the climbing arborist are hitting the market, reports Sally Drury.

Whether purchased or hired, the mobile elevated work platform is a much valued piece of kit in arboriculture. However, there remains a need for competent climbers - and hence for a great deal of safety equipment such as harnesses, lifelines, strops and all the gadgets and gizmos that help the climbing arborist secure a safe position for work.

Q: What's new to help tree surgeons climb?

A: One product attracting a great deal of attention at last June's Arb Trade Fair in Gloucestershire was a device called the Treepedo from King Tree Services. An evolution of the throw bag, the Treepedo is a projectile and rope positioner. It can be deployed simply by hand throwing or by sling shot and is an efficient way of making rope placement easy, safe, quick and reliable.

The Treepedo can be used to smooth the transition of rope and line connections with diameters greater than 2mm. It also solves a number of problems. Traditional throw bags can waste a lot of time by snagging or jamming on bark or in twigs and are likely to wrap around stems and branches. They may require a lot of effort to pull, tiring the operative and causing potential wear to the bag, line and tree. Throw bags may contain as much as 450g of lead.

Shaped like a torpedo, the Treepedo gives better flight than a throw bag. It is made of hard anodized aluminium with internal stainless steel weight and a protective sleeve to dampen impact and offer near-frictionless movement. Its geometric form provides ease of movement in all directions and prevents severing lines by reducing line pull effort. What's more, it doesn't contain toxic lead and it should last a lifetime. Ropes with diameters of up to 25mm can be used with this device.

Q: What's new to help tree surgeon's communicate while working?

A: Communication between workers is essential for safety's sake. But with chainsaws and wood chippers working flat out, it can be impossible to hear what is being said. Noise and poor communication can severely compromise safety as well as reducing productivity. 2talk Arborcom, another product receiving a great response at this year's Arb Trade Fair, overcomes those problems.

Through improved and reliable communication, 2talk Arborcom can increase operator safety. Since there is no need to make hand signals or turn off machinery while you talk, it can also reduce downtime.

With the 2talk Arborcom Bluetooth headset, communication between operatives is simple. The system will fit most helmets, including Balance and Petzl, and is totally hands-free. There are no buttons to push and hold in - simply turn the headsets to "on" and carry on working. The full Duplex feature allows both operators to talk to each other at the same time, just like talking on the phone. The noise-cancelling microphone filters out background sounds such as chainsaws and other machinery, allowing speech to be heard.

Matching headsets will work up to 200m apart. Expect to pay £295 ex VAT. For more details, visit

Q: Is there anything new in which to keep all my climbing kit?

A: To keep ropes and tools tidy and protected, Honey Brothers is offering Rope Worker Basic and Deluxe rope/tool bags. These are made of 1,000-denier high-performance Cordura with hi-visibility trim.

The bags have a built-in vertical support structure to stop them from collapsing. There are two long pockets for storing saws, cabling gear and pruners, while four reinforced positions are provided for attaching pack straps for wearing or for karabiners when hauling.

The Basic standard bag has a drawstring and will hold 250ft of 0.5-inch rope and costs £37 ex VAT. An extra large size, at £44 ex VAT, is offered to hold 500ft of 0.5-inch rope.

The Deluxe bag allows rope to be drawn through one of two 25mm access holes and has a heavy-duty zip on the top. As with the basic bag, two sizes are available. Prices are £60 and £68 ex VAT.

Also from Honey Brothers is the Gelert Expedition kit bag. This heavy-duty PVC bag has two side grab handles plus rucksack straps and is offered in 90-litre and 120-litre sizes priced at £35 and £39.99 ex VAT respectively.

Q: What's the latest news on chainsaws?

A: Lely UK of St Neots is now the distributor for Solo chainsaws. This range of German-made saws includes models suitable for arborists and grounds maintenance and forestry professionals as well as units for semi-professional use.

Q: What's the latest in personal protective equipment for arborists?

A: Severnside Safety of Cheltenham has designed a chainsaw protective bib and brace. The SevSafe Class 1 Design C Hi-Viz orange offers all round leg protection.

Included in the latest collection from Husqvarna is the F24 Class 2 Model A chainsaw protection trouser. This lightweight garment contains Aramid, which is a hard-wearing fabric used in military applications, around the knee area and Cordura around the low part of the front and back of the leg.

Stihl is now offering a Design A version of its HiFlex trouser. Made of the same material as the Design C trouser, the new garment features six layers of blocking material around just the front of the leg.

It is suitable for professional foresters, loggers and woodsmen trained in the use of chainsaws.



Bahco 01709 731731; Buxtons 01785 712397; Central Spares 01202 882000; Echo Power Tools 0800 597 7777; Emak 01543 687660; Eric Hunter 0800 389 1482; FR Jones & Son 020 8852 9668; Fiskars 01656 655595; Honey Brothers 01483 561362; Husqvarna Outdoor Products 01453 820300; Lamberhurst Engineering 01892 890364; Lely UK (Solo brand) 01480 226800; Makita 01908 211678; Richmonds Groundcare 01428 658487; Rollins Bulldog Tools 01279 401572; Severnside Safety Supplies 01242 525811; Silky Fox 01981 590224; Spaldings 01522 500600; Stanton Hope 01268 419141; Stihl GB 0800 137574; Treepedo (King Tree Services) 001 866 546 4873

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