What You Need to Know When Hiring an Arborist

An arborist is an expert on trees and their environment. They know how to keep your tree healthy and safe, even in adverse conditions like drought or high winds. The services they offer range from pruning to removing dead branches. When you’re looking for someone to care for your trees, hire a certified arborist! 

A certified Arborist will take the time to learn about your specific needs and what’s best for the tree in order to provide the most effective service possible. They also have experience with different types of trees, so they’ll be able to tell you which type of plantings are best suited for each climate zone too!

Do you need an arborist? Are you wondering what they do? If so, then this blog post is for you! Arborists care about the health of trees and other plants that live in our environment. They help make sure that these living things stay healthy and happy by ensuring they have the right amount of water, sunlight, nutrients, etc. 

It’s important to hire a competent arborist when it comes time to maintain your property because if they don’t know what they’re doing, your trees may die. Read on for more information on how to find a good one and what qualities you should be looking for in order to find the best possible person for the job! 

Choosing An Arborist

Choosing a contractor for any job can be quite challenging, and picking an arborist can be exceptionally tough. So the first step is to make sure you’re familiar with what a proper arboricultural service looks like.

Anyone can put a company name on the side of a truck and go into business for themselves, and even legally so, but that does not always mean they are as qualified as a consumer may desire. For example, some arborists only give advice and are not associated with a company. 

While most other arborists will be associated with a company that will then carry out the recommendations made by the arborist. For this reason, the advice in this post will be geared towards the latter but can usually apply to both.

Legal requirements for arborists

One of the most important boxes to check is that your contractor has workers compensation and liability insurance. This may seem like a no brainer, but it is a step skipped by many consumers. 

There can be exceptional liability taken on when assessing the health and structure of a tree, not to mention if physical work is actually carried out. The contractor should also have a business license to work in the municipality in which you reside. A reputable contractor should be happy to answer these questions, so do not hesitate to ask.

Credentials For Arborists

This one is tricky because there are many credentials an arborist may carry, and some apply more than others, depending on the situation at hand. Therefore, the best place to start is to be sure you are meeting with a certified arborist. 

Anyone can call themselves an arborist but achieving this certification from the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) shows a consumer that a basic level understanding of tree care has been successfully demonstrated.

The ISA provides arborists with the ability to obtain many other credentials, all verified through testing and sometimes even physical demonstrations. Your certified arborist may also carry a two or four-year college degree in forestry, horticulture, or other related fields.

They may possess one of the multiple types of licenses that the state of California provides to those who have demonstrated proficiency in the use and application of pesticides. If they do not and will be doing any chemical application, check that their applicators are covered by the certification. It is illegal for them to provide these services without doing so, and for a good reason.

Remember this! Credentials alone do not make a great arborist. Licenses, certifications, qualifications, and degrees are great, but personality and experience should not be overlooked. One of the most important features of an arborist is working with the human side of tree care.

Trees are long-lived organisms, and so are we. Therefore, it is important to find someone who lines up well enough with your style of communication. This will allow you better to understand your trees issues and long term maintenance needs.

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Much like with your medical provider, it pays to have a long term relationship with your arborist. It is common for a tree to suffer a structural failure or health issues due to an event that occurred long ago. An arborist who knows the history of your landscape will have valuable information regarding assessing issues that can arise.

Additional Tips When Hiring An Arborist

  • Certain aspects of tree care, like pruning, can be very subjective. However, there may also be certain considerations you do not want overlooked when the work is completed. For these reasons and more, always insist on a signed contract.
  • Don’t be tempted by a bargain. Instead of simply taking the cheapest price, try to focus your attention on all of the items above.
  • Do not rely too heavily on online reviews. Due to the complexity of tree care, this is not the best way to choose an arborist.
  • Become familiar with the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA). The TCIA exists to help arboricultural businesses advance themselves and prove to consumers that they are up to the highest standards in the industry. TCIA accredited organisations must provide documentation annually to retain accreditation and go through an in-person audit every three years. This is a service, which groups like the Better Business Bureau and Consumer Checkbooks will not provide. By choosing a TCIA accredited company, much of the information above has already been confirmed for you.

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.

One of the best ways to reduce workplace injuries is to ensure each employee has the proper equipment and tools when it comes to arborist safety. In addition, workers need 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. Of course, 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 work can be dangerous. Consider the following tips to ensure arborist safety during jobs:

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. For example, 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.

Don’t Overlook Rope Color

It might not be a primary concern for arborists, but rope colour 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 colours that stand out during a job. Pink, yellow, orange, or other bright fluorescent colours can really make a difference. Mistakes are bound to happen if the ropes blend in with the tree or foliage. So select your rope colour depending on the job at hand.

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.

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Failing to assess branch integrity properly 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. However, if using an aerial lift, always remember to utilise proper fall production P.P.E. while operating.

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. Second, 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. Contact the utility company before proceeding if it’s absolutely necessary to get close to power lines to complete the job. They can cover the lines with insulated hoses, and you can safely complete the job.

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. Of course, arborists should always be trained in first aid and CPR, just in case.

Useful Tips for Hiring an Arborist

Trees are found everywhere, and they provide us with many benefits like shade, oxygen, and food while preventing soil erosion and improving the appearance of different places. However, trees need proper care to stay healthy, and an arborist can provide this kind of service. 

Arborists offer different services like studying trees, tree planting, pruning, tree removal, and treating diseases. To ensure that your trees are always in good health, it is important to hire a professional. So, on that note, read on to learn some useful tips for hiring an arborist.  

Is the Arborist Experienced?

Services like tree cutting and pruning can be extremely dangerous, and they require people with the expertise to handle the task. Therefore, it is crucial to find an experienced and highly skilled arborist to offer quality services for this and other reasons. Arborists offer a variety of services, and tree cutting is one of them. 

Any person can buy a chainsaw and begin to distribute adverts about tree removal services. However, it is very risky to work with these people even though they may charge lower fees for their services. 

A professional arborist should have the experience and appropriate equipment to use for different services. Inexperienced tree service providers can pose a danger to your safety, resulting in the loss of thousands of dollars. Feel free to ask the arborist the number of years they have been in practice.   

Is the Arborist Licensed?

The other important thing that you must do is establish if the arborist is certified or licensed to operate in this field. In addition, the company you hire must have a valid contractor’s license for operating in your local area.  

When an arborist becomes certified, they should be recognised as having acquired knowledge in different areas such as diagnoses, biology, safety, and maintenance practice. 

Certification offers a measurable assessment of different individual’s competencies and knowledge required for proper tree care. Licensed companies also provide warranties for their services to protect the interests of the consumers. 

Ask for Proof of General Liability Insurance

It is vital to ensure that the arborist has general liability insurance and worker’s compensation before hiring them to perform tree cutting tasks. A bonded contractor will allow you to challenge their services if you are not satisfied. 

General liability insurance also helps to protect your property. However, damages can arise as a result of different activities involved since the task involves a lot of risks. 

The contractor you hire should also have workers’ compensation to protect their employees against injuries while working inside your yard.

If the company does not have valid insurance, that will be a big risk since you will be responsible for any property damages or injuries at your property. 

Choosing contractors with cheaper fees can sound like a good idea, but it can be costly in the long run. In addition, uninsured companies usually lack experience, and they can do a shoddy job at your home. 

As a result, you can end up paying double the expenses should anything bad happen at your property. Ask for proof of insurance before you hire a contractor to protect your interests. 

Cost of Hiring an Arborist

You must have a basic understanding of the costs of different services offered by the arborist in your local area. Your location can determine the overall cost, so it is vital to deal with local arborists. 

The complexity of the task also determines the total amount of money that you can pay for the job. Therefore, you need to shop around and try to get service providers with the best rates. Remember to look for experienced and reputable service providers. 

Customer Service

Above all, you should try to establish the level of customer service offered by the tree service. Try to choose a company that offers satisfactory services to the customers. 

You can check customer reviews about specific arborists to gauge what other people think about them. Referrals can also save you the hassle of looking for a professional arborist if you want to hire one.   

As mentioned above, trees play a crucial role in our lives like providing oxygen, shade, food, improving the aesthetic appearance of a location, and preventing soil erosion. That’s why trees require special care that only certified arborists can offer. 

When hiring an arborist, consider their experience, licensing, general liability insurance, and the service cost. Note that it is essential to shop around to get the best arborist to protect your property and save money.

Regular Tree Climbing Gear Inspections & Arborist Safety

Risk management is a top priority for every tree care business, as lackluster health and safety practices can lead to serious on-the-job injuries, even deaths. From the moment tree professionals set foot on a job site, there should be clear policies and procedures in place to protect them from both known and potential threats. 

According to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, fatal work-related falls to a lower level increased by nearly 26% between 2011 and 2016, making it one of the most common types of hazards across industry lines. 

For utility arborists and other tree pros, conducting tree climbing gear inspections as part of their daily routine. But to ensure your workforce is prepared for a possible accident, it’s crucial to promote safety awareness and maintain a documented tree care equipment inspection program.

What Are The Main Causes Of Tree Care Injuries?

Tree care professionals contend with all sorts of natural and man-made hazards, from sudden bouts of intense weather to steep inclines around the trees they’re pruning. Just as worksite risk assessments help arborists locate environmental threats, tree climbing gear inspections provide a layer of oversight to prevent fatal equipment malfunctions. 

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According to the Tree Care Industry Association, falling or slipping from a ladder is the most expensive type of injury, with an average cost per claim of around $126,000. While these sorts of accidents only account for 1% of all injury claims, they amount to roughly 9% of all claim costs in the tree care industry. While some falls can be attributed to uneven terrain or improper use, many accidents occur due to faulty equipment.

In addition to ladders, tree care professionals rely on a wide range of rigging equipment, hand tools, and gas-powered machinery as part of their vegetation management activities.

Every piece of equipment represents a possible point of failure, which is why conducting regular inspections is crucial. For example, a dull chain can not only force a chainsaw to work twice as hard, but it can also increase the frequency of kickbacks. 

Therefore, before starting any tree trimming job, arborists should carefully check whether their tree climbing equipment and pruning equipment are in need of hands-on maintenance, including:

  • Fall arrest systems (saddles, straps, safety harnesses)
  • Personal protective equipment (helmets, goggles, gloves, durable clothing)
  • Rigging equipment (blocks, pulleys, slings, cable hoists, ropes)
  • Pruning tools (sheers, pruners, pole saws, hatchets)
  • Gas-powered machinery (chainsaws, wood chippers, hydraulic tools)

Failing to maintain pruning, rigging, and tree climbing gear can lead to avoidable injuries and force tree car businesses to replace equipment more frequently. This, in turn, can increase back-end costs and may even cut into a company’s bottom line. But how can tree care professionals prioritise the upkeep of their tree climbing equipment without wasting time or resources?

How To Create An Effective Gear Inspection Framework

First, it’s crucial for tree care businesses to create a safety culture within their organisations, as workers in the field are the first line of defence against preventable injuries.

This includes making pre-climb equipment inspections mandatory and training arborists to properly maintain their tree climbing gear. In addition, to create a truly comprehensive safety program, employers should uphold the standards in the ANSI Z133 Safety Requirements for Arboricultural Operations. 

Additional references, such as The Arborist Safe Workplace Practices Committee, composed of industry leaders like the International Society of Arboriculture, give additional supporting guidelines. 

Among these guidelines are general recommendations for conducting tree climbing equipment inspections and specialised guidelines for specific pieces of equipment. For example, one standard asserts that all arborist climbing lines should be made of a “synthetic fiber” with a “minimum nominal breaking strength” of 6,100 pounds.

After adopting best practices in the arboriculture industry, tree care businesses should document their safety processes and procedures for future reference. This not only ensures tree professionals can quickly lookup existing guidelines, but it can also streamline new hire training and provide a higher level of administrative oversight.  

Ultimately, every pruning job will have its own challenges and constraints, which is why one-size-fits-all safety policies often fail to protect workers. Instead, many tree care experts recommend creating a comprehensive safety checklist that includes job site assessments and tree climbing gear inspections. Using this resource, tree pros can identify signs of wear and tear in specific pieces of equipment and protect themselves from whatever nature throws their way.

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