Conducting Pre-Climbing Inspections

When conducting tree work, it’s important for workers to understand the associated risks that come with climbing trees and how to prevent incidents. Some of the major threats that come with tree climbing include electricity, tree decay, stinging insects or animals, and faulty equipment. Be sure your pre-climbing inspection crew evaluates these areas of concern.

Locate Electrical Hazards

Electrical hazards are one of the biggest risks associated with tree work, which is why it’s important for crew members to identify potential electrical hazards before work begins. While keeping the minimum approach distance, conduct a visual hazard assessment to check the entire area for any powerlines, transformers or wires that could run the risk of electrocution.

Inspect the Integrity of the Tree

Are there any visible defects that could affect the operation? This is an important consideration to include in the pre-climbing exam of the tree in question. Determining tree integrity requires more than a simple visual evaluation, which is where rigging comes in. Keep an eye out for:

  • Cut roots
  • Girdling or rotting roots
  • Fungus near the base of the tree
  • Trunk hazards
  • Backfill or other landscaping around the tree
  • Kankers or water holes
  • Weak crotches
  • Hangers
  • Dead branches

These can all be red flags about the health of the tree and may signal the need to develop an alternate plan of action. If you suspect that any part of the tree runs the risk of failure, work with your foremen to determine how to best get the job done.

Rigging Procedure

Rigging points should be assessed to estimate potential forces by a qualified arborist. The arborists performing rigging operations need to be educated and specially trained to estimate potential forces at any point in the rigging system being used. These system components will comply with working-load limits relative to the operation and maximum potential forces.


The number of lines, line points and rope angles and their effect on any rigging or anchor point should be carefully assessed. Also, be sure to take additional forces that can result from the influence of rigging design into consideration, such as tree decay, tree lean and wind.

Examine Climbing Equipment

Unfit climbing equipment can lead to avoidable injuries as well. The climber should assess all climbing lines, work lines, harnesses, lanyards and climbing equipment for damage, cuts or abrasions. Keep an eye out for things like heat damage, areas of stiffness, fraying or puffs and spliced end integrity; as these can all signal that it’s time to switch the equipment. If any of these signs of wear are present, replace the equipment before the work begins.

Come to a Solution

Make sure to deal with any of the identified hazards before any of your team members climb. Any and all hazards should be noted on the work order and reviewed by all crew members before tree work begins.

Understanding what elements to include in your pre-climbing inspection ensures the safety of you and fellow crew members. Don’t let root decay or electrical hazards injure you on the job, remember to include these elements in your next pre-climbing inspection.

Posted: 4/3/2019 4:12:26 PM by Global Administrator