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Basic Rigging - An Arborists Guide


Rigging is perhaps one of the most important skills you need to learn as an arborist. Not only does it provide the support you need to work at height, but it is also responsible for the safety of you and your team. Understanding why rigging is so important, how it can be used to support safety and the basics of knots and hitches will give you the basic tools needed to approach any job. This guide will discuss each of these factors and aims to provide key information that will come in handy every single working day.

What is rigging?

In the arborist world, tree rigging is a particular method used to dismantle sections or the entire body of a tree. It uses a combination of ropes, pulleys and blocks to safely remove and lower pieces of wood to the floor while keeping the team on-hand safe at all times. The main aim of rigging in the arborist trade is to minimise damage, protect the general public and minimise the risk of injury.

Rigging is used in a variety of different environments. This can be for the purpose of wholesale felling, the act of removing awkward-shaped branches and manoeuvring tight drop zones. It can be a very complex process, requiring a significant degree of experience and technique. Not only do you need to understand knots and hitches. It is also important to understand other features such as the properties of different woods, the safety ratings of your equipment and general physics. Various ropes also offer different strengths - another factor that needs to be accounted for.

Safety during rigging

As we have mentioned before, rigging needs to be carried out using the best safety procedures. The key purpose is to take active steps to minimise the risk of fatal injuries. The main hazards presented during rigging include:

  • Risks to you and your team.
  • Risks presented from the use of highly powerful machines and tools required for felling.
  • Risk is injuries caused by suspended sections of trees.
  • Risks presented during the lowering of timber.
  • Risks presented when chunking out larger sections of wood which have been vertically rigged upon themselves.
  • The force produced when dropping wood via ropes.

When constructing rigging, it is important to consider the maximum shock-load potential presented by your set-up. This is a key way to prevent injuries to yourself, members of your team and the general public. Take account of the maximum strength provided by ropes and other rigging equipment to support you here.

When rigging, arborists need to ensure they:

  • Use the most appropriate rigging equipment which provides the most suitable weight capacity for the job at hand.
  • Use rigging equipment which is in accordance with industry regulations and the manufacturer recommendations.
  • Ensure regular inspections of the rigging equipment is undertaken and any flaws or damage has been noted.

Basic Rigging for Arborists

Tree rigging is a variable activity. It can extend from the simplest set up to one that is complex and detailed. No matter whether you need to remove a single branch or numerous sections of an older tree, you need to be aware of all hazards posed.

At its most basic level, rigging can consist of:

  • A rope.
  • A pulley.
  • A climber.
  • A grounds person.

The section of wood can be fixed using the rope which is then threaded through a pulley by the climber. This feeds down to the groundsman who can then control the speed of lowering by hand. Although this works for basic set-ups, it doesn’t account for variables. Consider the weight of the branch and how much tension is required. To take these into account, a more complex setup may be required.

There are many items of equipment that can be implemented to improve a basic rigging set up. These include:

  • A Speedline. This allows tree sections to be transported to a remove zone for safe dropping.
  • A pulley block and tackle setup which fixes to a mounting point and a moving load.
  • A dead-eye rigging sling with a large 'eye'.
  • Ropes of various weight capacities.
  • A rope bag for storage.

Rigging equipment available at Sorbus International

We are a team of professional and experienced personnel who understand the rigorous demands placed on those within our industry. From steel karabiners, lowering/rigging pulleys and rigging ropes, we have a collection of load-bearing equipment to fit your needs. Each item of PPE has been marked with a unique identification number and comes with a Certificate of Conformity. This ensures it meets the latest safety requirements and all LOLER inspections.

Whether you’re looking at a complex project, spread over a number of days and requiring a large team force. Or, perhaps you simply need to remove a dying branch slowly and safely without causing damage to the area. Either way, our extensive collection of equipment can be relied on to help you through the most demanding of jobs.

Everyone in the Sorbus International Team has extensive knowledge of the arborist trade. If you have any questions about the rigging equipment available in our range, please get in contact on 01373 475 540. Alternatively, fill in our Contact Form and one of our specialists will get back to you as soon as possible.

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