A Look at Safety Gear for Arborists

Historical pic of arborists

Arborists were minimalist when it came to safety gear a few years ago

In days long ago, arborists headed off to work in no more than their hat and suspenders, but in today’s world a few more items are necessary. Tree care can be a challenging line of work and safety equipment is key in keeping arborists safe on the job. There aren’t many folks who sport suspenders anymore, but they make up for it in all the safety gear they wear.

Did you know an average saddle weighs at least 20 lbs? That’s before you attach your chainsaw too…

Calvin & Curt

You can’t miss Calvin and Curt in their orange CLC Tree Services shirts

Safety starts long before the truck leaves the yard. The first thing the CLC Tree Services crew puts on in the morning are their bright orange shirts. It’s hard to miss the blast of orange when they are tucked high in a leafy green tree or found deep in a dim forest. Plus, this year’s newest shirts sport a reflective X across the back and a band that runs around the middle.

There is plenty more gear than that though. From carabiners to ropes and helmets to harnesses, the gear adds up; both for safety’s sake and dollar wise.

Safety equipment for arborists

From sunscreen to throw bags, safety is taken seriously in the arboriculture industry

People who work in the tree services industry need to think about protecting;

  • their eyes – safety glasses
  • their heads – helmets
  • their skin – sunscreen, insect repellent, long pants
  • their feet – work boots
  • their hands – work gloves, climbing gloves
  • their ears – ear muffs & plugs

And that is before they even fire up a chainsaw.


When it comes to rope, you can never have too much

Throwlines help get rope into hard-to-reach areas, thereby saving an arborist difficult maneuvering.

Ropes come in handy in all aspects of tree care. Colour is just one choice when it comes to availability. There are rigging lines, tree climbing ropes, cordage, and they all come in different lengths, diameters and flexibility. Whether you are climbing or using it to manipulate trees into or out of position, rope is one of the most essential items of gear needed for arborists today.

For those who climb up into trees, a harness or saddle are mandatory safety gear as well. Not only do they come with gear loops and leg straps, but comfort and sizing needs to be taken into consideration when choosing equipment that just might save your life as you dangle 80′ in the air.

carabiners & lanyards

These colourful carabiners and lanyards are essential to tree services

There are smaller accessories that are just as important though. A good carabiner not only holds your gear and you, but comes in a wide range of sizes and colours. Lanyards are plenty colourful too, plus help to create second points of attachments or help to keep you in place in a tree. Pulleys can get gear into the tree, help with your rigging and are another essential tool for the job. As are splicing tools and pocket knives, to name a few other tools.

These are all tools to keep arborists a little safer on the job. While rope might cost you up to $500 for a top of the line product, when you consider it is protecting a life, plus the happiness of their family, friends and co-workers, it is well worth it. And it sure beats relying on suspenders, don’t you think?

Safety gear

CLC takes safety seriously. Here’s our newest addition to our gear from the recent Aerial Rescue Training

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Re-Planting Privacy: Getting the Look you Want with Mature Trees

Bill Lindley

A 7′ fence isn’t tall enough to offer the privacy that homeowner and avid bird watcher Bill Lindley wanted to enjoy his backyard

Losing a tree can be heartbreaking for any homeowner, but when you lose more than one it’s devastating. Even worse, it can change the look and feel of your home, as well as your enjoyment of it.

So when Bill and Colleen Lindley discovered a fungus in the spruce and pine trees at the back of their yard, trees they had planted themselves 35 years earlier, they didn’t know what to do. And unfortunately, Calvin McCallum and CLC Tree Services couldn’t save the trees. They needed to be cut down and the hole they left at the back of their property was glaringly obvious. All of a sudden, their neighbours had full view of their yard and their privacy was gone.

“We don’t have time for new trees to grow and give us back our privacy,” declared Colleen.

“And we’re not willing to chance new trees getting infected,” added Bill.

The hole left by the loss of 10 hand-planted trees in the Lindley's back yard

The hole left by the loss of 10 hand-planted trees in the Lindley’s back yard

Calvin straightening a birch tree

Putting a River Birch into place

Calvin had a suggestion. Not only could they replant new trees in the empty swathe left by the old trees, but they could select the largest, mature trees possible from different species to reduce the risk of reinfection. It was time to go shopping.

Calvin was early the day they went to Stam Nursery to select replacement trees to plant on the Lindley’s 1/3 of an acre property. While Colleen wanted something ‘pretty’, Calvin made sure to point out native species that would complement the other trees in their yard, offer them the privacy they were seeking, and have the trees’ own requirements met; sufficient light, water and soil type. His attention to detail impressed them and let them know they had the right company for the big job ahead.

Aerial lift

The Dawn Redwood was the first tree over the house

For choosing 10 replacement trees to add into the Lindley’s park-like setting was one thing, but getting them into place was another. They lived in north London, surrounded by neighbours on all sides, with only a gate to access the backyard. The Dawn Redwood that Calvin had suggested “to make it”, to be the focal point of the new view, was 28 feet tall and 6,300 lb. CLC’s bucket truck couldn’t get anywhere near the backyard and a hand cart wouldn’t cut it to transport the new tree into place, let alone the other 9 trees. So a call went into Cameron Crane to assist with the job.

The hemlock and a river birch get gently delivered

Scott Campbell from Cameron Crane gives walkie-talkie instructions to the crane operator in the front yard, who gently maneuvers trees into place

Over the course of the day, the 200′ crane lifted the redwood, 7 river birches, a 16′ Northern Hemlock and a red oak over the Lindley’s Tudor house. It was no easy task, as 154,000 lbs of counterweight had to be added to the crane before the job even began. Once the crane was assembled, trees were maneuvered into place via walkie-talkie instructions from the backyard.

Trees in crane's bucket

Carefully swinging trees into the backyard

Homeowners watch

Colleen and Bill Lindley watch the activities unfold in their backyard, close enough to make comments and suggestions, but far enough to be out of harm’s way

Making sure a tree is straight is a team effort

Kyle Edwards, from Kyle’s Lawn Service, helps to make minor adjustments with the bobcat

Getting the trees into the backyard was only the first task though. Once the trees were removed from the bucket, they were hooked up to chains and swung into pre-dug holes around the backyard. Due to the weight alone, especially of the redwood, minute adjustments were painstakingly made to ensure the trees were straight and to the homeowner’s approval. Once the trees were in place and cables removed, minor adjustments were made with the bobcat with small carpet sections put in place to reduce damage during the adjustment process.


Kyle & Calvin load a birch tree onto the cart

For the relatively smaller river birches, a sturdy handcart, with the help of several strong backs, was enough to get the trees to their new homes


The homeowners noted Calvin’s consideration and approved. Every step of the way they were consulted, and as Colleen noted “You don’t always get that”. Even a small bed of lily of the valley with sentimental value was protected throughout the tree removal, 3-days of hole digging, and full-day of tree planting.



By the end of the day, they were thrilled at the transformation. It hadn’t been an easy process, between the loss of their beloved trees, the stark disappearance of their privacy, and the process it took to regain a measure of both, but it was well worth it.

Privacy restored

Putting the finishing touches on the Lindley’s new yard

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Aerial Rescue Training

“Fail to Prepare, Prepare to Fail” – Reminder from Mark Cooke at London Arborist Day, 2015

CLC Tree Services crew waiting for the day to begin

CLC Tree Services attends Aerial Rescue Training, May 2015


CLC Crew admire the 70′ Easy Lift on display by Vermeer Canada

As vehicles pulled into the Talbotville Optimist Park on May 6th, 2015, they were greeted by the sight of two new stumpers, a skidder, a chipper and a shiny new 70′ aerial spider lift. Tables were covered in ropes, helmets, ascension clamps, sickles, harnesses, throw bags, safety glasses and even sunscreen to tempt the arborists who had come to take part in the London Arborist Day put on by Vermeer Canada. It was the first time that a training day had been held in Southwestern Ontario and 20 companies signed up to take part in the Aerial Rescue and Training Day.

CLC Tree Services, led by Calvin McCallum, was just one of those tree services companies.

Intro to Aerial Resuce

Mark Cooke talks about aerial rescue principles and practices while the CLC crew look on

While there are risks in any industry, arboriculture has some unique safety issues. There are dangers due to falls, electrocution, punctures, tears, chainsaw wounds, and more. The nature of the industry is such that when an injury happens, it can be very dangerous and quick thinking is key. More importantly though is knowing what to do in an emergency. Which is why Mark Cooke was there.

Aerial rescue

Mark demonstrate rescue techniques with the help of Chris Beckman from Sherrill Tree

Mark Cooke is the lead instructor with Arboriculture Canada. A certified member of the ISA since 1997, he is well-suited to the job of teaching best practices in health and safety in the arboriculture industry. He is personable, approachable, but more importantly, extremely knowledgeable about what to do in emergency situations in the field. He encouraged questions and critical thinking throughout his presentation and demonstrated hands-on techniques to use in emergency situations.

Throughout the day, the focus was on safety. Mark hammered home that safety begins long before you ever get into a tree. It starts with education, proper gear (not your lucky beaner that you’ve had for 15 years!), assessment of the task at hand, properly filled out paperwork before a job begins, and even the knowledge of your crew’s health. Trucks should have fully stocked first aid kits, but individual crew members should also carry their own kits (a fanny pack can hold personal first-aid essentials). He noted that if you are stuck in a tree, you are your own first line of defence. Self-rescue can make the difference in an emergency. Especially if rescue crews are hampered by time, rescue systems or equipment.

Arborist Gear

CLC Tree Services stocked up on some of the gear that London Vermeer had on offer

During breaks, people had the opportunity to network, purchase gear and inspect the larger equipment on hand. Ben Parkin, the Vermeer Canada London Territory Manager, was just one of the reps on hand to answer any questions people had. While Melisa Talsma, Vermeer’s Marketing Coordinator, was happy to take customer’s money, she also reminded everyone that they received a 10% discount on anything purchased as a show special. And she reminded Certified Arborists that they would receive 6 Continued Education Units (CEU) towards their minimum of 30 required over 3 years for recertification. Plus, any profits made on the day, after the cost of lunch, was donated to Tree Fund Canada.

All great reasons to be there. For the men in attendance, there was much to think about and potential practices to re-examine. As Melisa handed out evaluation forms, she had plenty to be happy about; over 100 people had shown up, general consensus of the day was good, and the sun had won out over the threat of rain by the end of the day. Best of all though, a few safer arborists were headed back out into Southwestern Ontario to tend to the trees in their domains.

And we should all be pleased about that.

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Trees: Species At Risk in Ontario

Here at CLC Tree Services, we love trees. Native trees, big trees, little trees, deciduous or coniferous trees. Any kind of trees really. But we are saddened when we hear that some native trees are at risk. Some of them are threatened by insects, the most recognizable right now of course being ash trees by the emerald ash borer. More than insects can threaten a tree though. Many species suffer due to habitat loss, either from deforestation, industrialization, or infringement of housing developments. There are also diseases, like chestnut blight or Dutch Elm disease which can almost wipe out a species.

The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources monitors tree species and takes steps to protect our native trees when they are put at risk. One of the first steps is recognizing which species are in danger and noting how threatened they are. The distinctions are;

  • Extirpated – native to Ontario and still exists in the world, but no longer found here
  • Endangered – imminent danger of becoming extinct or extirpated
  • Threatened – not endangered, but likely at risk if steps not taken
  • Special Concern – not endangered or threatened, but at risk due to identified threats

Species at Risk in Ontario

Map of American Chestnut trees - Image Source http://goo.gl/GOyQI5

Where to find American Chestnut trees in Canada

  • American Chestnut: listed as Endangered; at risk due to fungal disease – chestnut blight; only place to find it in Canada is Southwestern Ontario
  • Blue Ash: listed as special concern; at risk historically due to over-harvesting and presently due to the emerald ash borer (green and white ash more favoured by EAB, but still a threat)
Butternut tree

Butternut – “Juglans cinerea”. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

  • Butternut: listed as endangered; at risk due to butternut canker
  • Cherry Birch: listed as endangered; at risk due to habitat destruction; only stand in Canada located in Niagara peninsula
  • Common Hoptree: listed as threatened; at risk due to habitat loss and more recently a twig-boring beetle; only place in Canada it is found is along Lake Erie shores
  • Cucumber Tree: listed as endangered; at risk due to deforestation and poor reproduction; it is the only native species of Magnolia in Canada and can only be found in Southwestern Ontario (occurs south of the border)
  • Dwarf Hackberry: listed as threatened; at risk due to habitat loss and bark beetle infestations in some years
  • Eastern Flowering Dogwood; Image Source http://goo.gl/ATZlOi

    Endangered Eastern Flowering Dogwood

    Eastern Flowering Dogwood: listed as endangered; at risk due to dogwood anthracnose (fungus) and habitat loss and fragmentation

  • Kentucky Coffeetree: listed as threatened; at risk due to lack of suitable habitat and poor seed production; in Canada it is only found in Southwestern Ontario; it has the largest leaves of any native tree in Canada
  • Red Mulberry: listed as endangered; at risk due to loss of habitat and competition with white mulberry; in Canada it is only found in the Carolinian zone in Southwestern Ontario
  • Shumard Oak: listed as special concern; at risk due to loss of habitat

For more information about these species, what is being done to protect them,  and how you can help visit the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources website and see the Government of Canada Species at Risk Public Registry. With our help, we can make a difference for these species and hopefully see them flourish again in the future.

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Trees: Springtime in the City

The weather has finally turned in London, Ontario; sunshine, mild breezes and double digits! You have to get outside! Birds are chirping, grass is finally growing and area trees are bursting out of hibernation to announce that spring has arrived. Go already!

Do you need more of a reason? How about we entice you with some fun facts about trees that you will find right outside your doorstep, if you go look.


Magnolia flowers opening



Many species of magnolia trees flower before the leaves come out. The flower bud is enclosed in a tough bract before the flower opens to reveal 9-15 tepals in 3 or more whorls. This ancient species has over 200 varieties in a wide range of colours, so you are bound to find one that’s just right for you.






Alder catkins


Alders have both long elongated male catkins and shorter woody female catkins appearing on the same tree. They are in the same family as birches – Betulaceae.

Crab Apple






The flowering crabapple is a favourite tree of homeowners in the spring. This drought tolerant tree is adaptable to most soils and prefers full sun to maximize flower and fruit production. It produces plenty of suckers or water sprouts though, so don’t forget to prune in late winter/early spring or after flowering, but make sure to prune before next year’s flower buds are set in June/July.


Opposite buds that have burst into flower


Both flowers and leaves are located at the terminal end of this twig



Terminal bud bursting open with spring flowers

Did you know that the buds on a twig can help you identify a tree? A terminal bud is the single bud located at the end of a twig. They can be pointed, rounded, blunt, smooth, sticky, or even hairy. Growth continues along the twig from it. Lateral buds are located behind the terminal bud in either alternate, opposite or swirled patterns. New branches are formed off the main twig from lateral buds. Buds can contain flowers, leaves or both, depending upon your species. That’s a lot of information for a small little nub.

Does that help you name any of these trees?


These downy terminal buds give you a hint to the tree’s identity

They are calling for more beautiful weather this weekend, so take the opportunity to get out and glory in the spring weather we have waited for. Take a walk and check out some of the amazing things that trees are doing right now.

Let’s all get active together!

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