Knowledge, critical thinking, and decision making skills are required in order to carry out rigging procedures safely and productively. Arborist rigging accidents are on the increase. The basic principle of arborist rigging has always been to dismantle trees or sections of trees with rigging lines that are run through some type of a rigging point in the tree, or in a nearby tree. Today, however, there are many ways to manage the friction needed to assist a worker on the ground, and to control the descent and deceleration of a tree part after it is cut. In addition to new equipment, there are also right and wrong ways to tie arborist rigging slings to a tree, and/or rigging lines onto a section of a tree being dismantled. Knots must also be tied, dressed, and set correctly. Ropes, knots, and equipment must be chosen specifically for their ability to perform in a given situation. An arborist must be able to think through and make critical decisions on his feet every day!
There are many decisions to make both prior to and during a rigging operation. An arborist must not only deal with the forces of falling branches, equipment strength properties, crew communications, and work flow, but must also be able assess the tree for its overall stability as well as the stability of potential anchor and rigging points. Working safely and productively in trees, while carrying out many of the diverse procedures today’s arborists face, truly requires a solid understanding of rigging equipment and systems, basic rigging physics, and terminology.