By Paul George
The roots of modern arboriculture in Britain can be traced back to 1854, when the Arboricultural Society of Scotland was established. While an understanding of trees as living organisms is still central, the practical aspects have progressed exponentially over the subsequent decades. The industry has developed to reflect wider societal advancements in technology, safety standards and services, investing more in the comfort and safety of its workers more than ever. Now, arborist equipment is not only being built to mitigate safety risks, but tailored to better facilitate the role of the user, allowing you to work harder and more efficiently.
Harnesses are some of the most rapidly developing instruments in an arborist’s arsenal. Within the space of 20 years, there’s been a dramatic shift from gear that gets the job done, to specialist, feature focused harnesses that excel on an ergonomic and functional level. And the driving force behind these advancements has largely come from practicing arborists. Whether it is to meet the needs of new climbing techniques, or simply to ease the strains of the job, it is arborists like you or I that have catalysed the accelerated progression of climbing harnesses.
If you talk to any arborist who has been in the business for more than a decade, you’ll find that their starter harnesses could have been anything from parachute harnesses without leg loops, to a simple waist harness with two lanyards. These same arborists, who have grown with the industry, are now moving into product development and manufacturing. They are putting years of on-the-job insight into creating high performing products that work alongside the arborist, improving job performance and mitigating the short and long term risks of the job – such as the deterioration of the body from physical exertion. This, coupled with an expanding market that has enabled arborists from across the globe to connect, collaborate and export their products to international markets, has given us the most exciting age of equipment to date. Top rate harnesses like the TreeMotion, from manufacturers Teufelberger, are now readily available in the UK, allowing us to access some of the most hi-tech gear on the market.
When I started out almost 20 years ago, the Willans was pretty much the only harness cut out for the job; and while it is still inherently useful today – the core functions of arborism have remained the same – the features included in modern harnesses far outshine its simple utility. The variation on the market now affords arborists the ability to fully customise their harness to their working requirements – whether it’s the flexibility of a floating bridge saddle, a harness that aligns specifically with Double Rope Technique, the Petzl Sequoia, or the first harness that has been specifically designed for female arborists, the Simarghu Gemini.
The rate of development is phenomenal, yet expected. The physical demands of the job, and the time spent in equipment, like harnesses, can have a detrimental effect on the body. It is natural that external technological developments have facilitated a movement towards deeper investment in the science and people of the arboriculture industry. If the current trend of growth is anything to go by, the future of the arborist climbing harness is one to keep a close eye on.
Paul George is the managing director of Landmark Trading Ltd, and has worked in the arboricultural industry for 14 years. Landmark Trading are one of the the UK’s leading suppliers of arborist equipment. You can connect with Paul on Twitter, Facebook, Google + or call Landmark Trading on 01780 482231.