Understanding Fatigue in Arborists’ Lives: More Than Just Working with Trees

Arboriculture, an essential yet often misunderstood profession. It involves much more than just caring for and maintaining trees. Arborists, the true guardians of our urban and rural environments, face unique challenges that deeply affect their well-being and safety.

Many of us will never have to work through as many challenges on a daily basis as these men and women do.

Beyond Pruning: Physical and Mental Challenges

Working against time is a constant reality for arborists. In an industry where every minute counts, the pressure to work quickly is intense.

Time is money.

However, this rush can lead to fatigue and increase the risk of accidents. A recent US survey showed that a worrying 74% of arboriculture workers have felt pressured to work faster, leading to unsafe practices.

Arborists often operate in extreme conditions. Whether on busy streets or someone’s back garden, they face challenges.

Pedestrian’s and traffic need to be managed.

There’s storm cleanup.

Or dangerous trees. These need a plan.

The biggest one is heat though. Hot weather. Hard to quantify but is energy sapping.

Prolonged exposure to high temperatures and adverse weather not only increases physical risk but also contributes to mental and emotional fatigue.

Elevated Risks: Safety in Heights

A significant part of an arborist’s work involves operating at considerable heights.

It is one of the only at-height professions that your life can literally depend on an untested anchor point.

Handling ropes and other climbing equipment as well as operating a chainsaw is not only physically demanding but also requires a high level of skill and precision.

The risk of falls and height-related injuries is a constant danger, made worse by fatigue and physical exhaustion.

Taking time to understand the job, create a plan, and even creating a plan in case of injury can help reduce the risks.

Work Culture and Health: Changing the Narrative

The most concerning aspect of arboriculture is the unspoken acceptance that injuries are part of the job. Arborists suffer some of the most severe back and neck injuries. It’s vital to change this narrative and foster a work culture that prioritizes safety and health over efficiency.

Companies and team leaders in arboriculture must take the lead in fostering a work environment where safety is not compromised by efficiency demands.

Taking proactive steps such as providing adequate chainsaw safety and injury training, ensuring proper rest periods, keeping hydrated, and equipping workers with necessary chainsaw protective gear can make a significant difference.

Start a daily toolbox talk and encourage everyone to talk about the issues they might have had and how they could be approached differently next time.

Safe Gear: It Helps

As technology has advanced so has the gear available to arborists. Every year, new equipment is released that reduces effort, increases individual performance and safety, and reduces the risk of injury.

Attend trade shows and training workshops, if you can, to get up to speed with the latest equipment and practices.

Chainsaw clothing is no exception.

Gone are the days of hot, heavy chainsaw pants and chaps. In their place, is lightweight garments that perform far in excess of their earlier brothers.

Wearing something that offers injury protection and is also light and cool is a reality and reduces fatigue. So is, having chainsaw pants that keep you warm and toasty when it’s freezing.

The likes of well-known brands such as SIP, Arborwear, Arbortec all offer chainsaw pants that are comfortable to wear.

There are plenty of options out there to remain safe in any sort of weather. Being cooler, drier or even at the other end of the scale of keeping warm when it’s really cold all reduces fatigue.

Conclusion and Reflections

Fatigue in arborists’ lives is a complex topic that deserves attention and action. Recognizing and addressing the multiple challenges these professionals face is essential for ensuring their safety and well-being. By improving our understanding of these difficulties and surfacing them, we can support the development of safer and more sustainable practices in arboriculture.

By sharing this knowledge, we not only raise awareness about the realities of arboriculture but also highlight the importance of these professionals in maintaining our natural environments. Because everyone needs to go home safe at the end of the day.


  1. “Safety Issues for Arborists & Tree Care Pros”, Foresight Risk and Insurance Services.
  2. “Exploring the Challenges Faced by Arborists”, Trout Brook Arborists.

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