As with all operations that are carried out in the workplace it is essential to carry out a risk assessment on site before any work commences. The control measures should include taking note of any worksite issues, emergency procedures, the surroundings, exclusion zones, public access roads and any other issues that may rise during the assessment.
There should be an agreed upon plan of operation and, most importantly, communicate this to all personnel on site. At this stage I would also strongly recommend the tree is taken into consideration. Can the proposed operation be carried out cleanly with the pole saw without causing tree damage? Or, should the tree be accessed without the pole saw, utilising the skills of an experienced arborist and pruned in the conventional fashion?
Due to the nature of a fast-cutting attachment on the end of a 4m pole, the pole saw has a tendency to be a little difficult to control at full stretch. Achieving the final pruning cuts in accordance with industry- best practice, and the Australian standard for tree work, is not always possible. The result of poor planning and operation can cause a lot of unnecessary damage to the tree. This damage generally takes the form of scars along the branches, coat hanger-like stubs, large flush cuts or wrongly angled branch collar pruning wounds.
A lot of irreversible damage can be done to trees in a very short space of time and operators must be trained in their maintenance and operation along with some sound arboricultural knowledge and training to reflect the requirement of the pruning standards (AS4373 Pruning Of Amenity Trees).
As well as risk to the tree, there is also risk to the operator, who in some cases finds the best operating position directly under the branch that is being cut! The operator then finds that gravity works faster in a downward motion than they can move sideways carrying a 10kg machine above head height, with the resulting impact normally ending in a trip to the emergency room.