Whether you’ve been an arborist for 20 years or it’s your first day on the job, having the proper protective clothing and gear is essential. Trimming and felling large trees is a difficult and dangerous job with a variety of common injuries.
Falls, getting struck by limbs or trunks, chainsaw or saw injuries, and even electrical contact incidents are liable to occur even if proper safety procedures are being followed.
The more experienced you are, the easier it can be to trust yourself and ignore your training or to be lax with your protective gear. But no matter how confident you are in your abilities, it’s never worth putting yourself or other workers at risk.
There are five types of arborist protective clothing you should carry with you at all times to prevent or minimize injuries while on the job:
Hearing and Eye Protection
Hearing and eye protection can often be overlooked by arborists in favor of other types of personal protective equipment such as helmets or chainsaw pants. But years of chainsaw use is not good for the ears, and your future self will thank you for taking care of your hearing. Plus, the spray of sawdust, wood chips, and other debris should be reason enough to protect your eyes.
- Safety Glasses or Face Shields
Whether you rely on safety glasses, a face shield, or even a helmet with a built-in face shield, protecting your eyesight is a must.
Without some form of eye protection, you’re just asking for trouble. Sawdust gets everywhere, including your eyes. Without safety glasses, you’ll either have to keep your eyes closed or you’ll be pausing regularly to wipe them off. Neither option is great.
Of course, sawdust should be the least of your concerns when trimming a tree. Arborists rely on safety glasses or face shields to avoid doing some serious damage to their eyes. Rogue wood chips or twigs and branches could permanently ruin your eyesight if you go without safety glasses.
- Ear Plugs or Earmuffs
Ear plugs or earmuffs are inexpensive, but they are highly effective when it comes to protecting your hearing. Chainsaws can be as loud as 120 decibels, which is about as loud as a concert. Experts say that any noise above 85 decibels is harmful to your ears, so frequent chainsaw use is a fast track to experiencing hearing loss–unless you protect your ears.
Gloves are another type of arborist protective clothing that should not be overlooked. Whether you’re climbing, cutting, lowering, or moving, your hands are essential to your job as an arborist. It’s important to not only wear gloves, but to ensure the gloves you’re wearing are ideal for the job at hand. Here are two types of arborist gloves you should carry with you:
- High-Impact Gloves
High-impact gloves are designed to protect your hands from a variety of injuries. These gloves often contain Kevlar to ensure they offer superior protection from chainsaw cuts as well as other types of punctures.
If you’re trusting impact resistant gloves to protect you from chainsaw injuries, make sure they offer level 4 cut protection or higher.
- Climbing Gloves
Arborist climbing gloves should also offer level 4 cut protection if you’re going to be operating a chainsaw, but their main draw is their anti-slip design. Even with the proper rope system in place, arborists need to make sure they can climb trees with ease.
A good pair of climbing gloves can even offer extra grip when it’s wet and rainy out, so you never need to worry about slipping on the job.
Whether you’re working from the ground or you’re high up in a tree, you should always wear a helmet when on the job. The danger of falling limbs–or even falling out of the tree yourself–is too great to risk working without this crucial piece of arborist protective clothing.
- Cap-Style Safety Helmets
If you’re working from the ground, you can get by with a cap-style safety helmet. These arborist helmets meet safety standards and will protect you from any falling branches, equipment, or debris. However, if you’re going to be doing any climbing, this might not be the helmet for you.
- Climbing Helmets
Climbing helmets are ideal for arborists or anyone working for a tree trimming business because they come with chin straps that keep them from falling off. Obviously, this is important when working from any height.
To ensure you’re properly protected, make sure your climbing helmets satisfy the requirements of both ANSI and EN standards.
Ripstop Pants or Chaps
For arborist protective clothing to be effective, it not only has to be durable–it must also be functional. This is especially true when it comes to pants or chaps. Arborist pants need to be layered and tough but lightweight and flexible. However, as important as flexibility is, you should never opt for pants that will not protect you from your saws.
- Arborist Climbing Pants
When climbing trees and making cuts, pants that restrict your flexibility become a nuisance. If you’re going to be doing a lot of climbing, make sure you have lightweight, flexible climbing pants that make your job easier. Climbing pants are often made with stretchy materials that are reinforced in high-abrasion areas.
- Chainsaw Pants
Any time you’re operating a chainsaw, you must be wearing chainsaw protective pants. These pants rely on multiple layers of durable fabrics to stop chainsaws before they can draw blood or cause other injuries on the job.
While older chainsaw pants were quite heavy and stiff, the current generation of arborist protective clothing is stretchy, much lighter, and more comfortable.
- Chainsaw Chaps
It’s also a great idea to keep a pair of chainsaw chaps handy for any occasion where you or another worker needs them unexpectedly. Chainsaw chaps are typically adjustable, so they can fit people of different sizes, and they offer similar protection to chainsaw pants.
Arborist protective clothing should cover you from head to toe, so make sure you’re always wearing your boots. Don’t just throw on any old steel toe boots and think you’ll be ok. Arborist boots are specifically designed to make climbing easy, and some even offer protection against chainsaws.
- Climbing Boots
Climbing boots are popular among arborists because they are slim, light, and offer good grip for any climbing situation. A pair of good climbing boots will keep you safe and protected whenever you leave the ground for a job.
Although climbing boots are durable and provide good ankle support, they aren’t always rated against chainsaws. Make sure you’re aware of the limits of your climbing boots before you handle any saws.
- Chainsaw Safety Boots
Many arborists don’t realize how crucial a good pair of chainsaw safety boots can be while at work. With built in cut protection, your feet will always be safe from accidental chainsaw cuts. When using chainsaws, any exposed part of your body is potentially at risk. Trusting in chainsaw safety boots, as well as the aforementioned chainsaw pants, will reduce the likelihood of injury while on the job.
Work-related injuries are much more likely to occur when arborist protective clothing isn’t being used–and these injuries are much more likely to be serious or fatal. Don’t cut any corners when it comes to your protective gear.
Make sure you’re completely covered, and make sure you invest in quality arborist PPE. Trust Rock-N-Arbor’s extensive selection of proven and durable arborist protective clothing to make your job safer and easier than ever.