Having been in the tree care business for 13 years I have seen huge progressions in the Arboricultural industry when it comes to equipment. From decay detection equipment, to non-invasive bracing equipment, improved power tools and a huge amount of new and innovative climbing tools and equipment. So why is it, that in 2016, in this era of technology, clear communication tools are only just beginning to creep into our industry.
In such a high-risk industry where we are reading about incidents almost daily through the various channels of media, why have we still not identified Bluetooth communication as a must have piece of equipment for daily use among our crews. Communication is one of the most important safety factors in our day to day business, yet when talking about safety and incidents, as an industry we seem to accept that screaming and shouting single word commands at the top of our voice is just part of this business.
Let me tell you, as someone who has used these Bluetooth headsets, that is not the case, screaming and shouting is stressful and frustrating, it limits the message you are trying to get across and it looks and sounds so unprofessional to onlookers, in comparison to using a head set that is built into your hardhat.
My experience with 2 way radio systems 10 years ago
I’ll take you back to the first ever crane job that I was the climber for, this was about 3 years into my career as an arborist. My boss had gone out and bought a pair of 2-way radios so that I could communicate with him and the crane operator clearly as they may struggle to see me and hear me, and good communication was going to be imperative to a safe and successful job without any injuries. The tree was a Giant Sequoia and we would remove it in approx 8 pieces (if my memory serves me correctly), with the branches still attached. This meant that there would be clear communication leading up to the cut and then a break while the piece was craned away and placed on the ground. This meant that the 2-way radio was adequate for this particular job, because as the climber, there were natural breaks between cuts, and the crane would be doing the hard work. Why is it though, a crane job warrants this kind of communication, yet undertaking a removal on the same or a similar tree without the aid of a crane would be done without this kind of communication?
Using the Sena SMH10R bluetooth system
After using the Sena SMH10R Bluetooth headsets on a variety of tree pruning and removal job sites, it soon became apparent that this kind of headset should become as common as a chainsaw on the job site. Instantly, all the guys on the jobsite knew what was going on at all times (this model can accommodate 4 people). As a climber it is great because you can explain things to your crew as you are climbing around the tree (you don’t need to stop and shout to the crew). You can let them know you need some rigging equipment and which components, if you need your saw fueling, or even if the crew is chipping (they can still hear you) and you drop your handsaw, you still have clear communication. These examples that I have given are quite obvious that make a huge difference, but it’s the little things that you would never think about until you use this type of communication system that really cement this as a must have piece of kit. For example, if you keep your helmet on while reversing the truck and chipper you can get more precise direction from your spotter. When you are on a job site and you are pruning for your client’s view, you can have a crewmember stand with the client and communicate which branches they would like removed, you can then communicate back through your crew and give your thoughts on the pruning.
It’s the small things
One of the biggest factors from using these headsets is how the work environment becomes way more enjoyable, because nobody has to raise their voice and get annoyed due to their message not getting across, no screaming until you become red in the face and veins start bursting, and in-between all safety calls and gear requests you can shoot the shit with the crew.
You can even sync the headset to you phone to make and receive calls, and when you have those boring hedging jobs you can play some music from your phone to keep you entertained all day long.
Increase the safety on your work site
If you often undertake work in locations where there are many people around such as street tree pruning, local school contracts, apartment buildings etc… Then your site safety must be at its best because with any lack in concentration and site control a member of the public can be hit by a branch or a stub. These Bluetooth headsets increase site safety a huge amount, because it allows members of the ground crew to clearly communicate with the climber of any members of the public approaching, and the ground crew will be sure that the climber heard with a simple acknowledgement. The climber sometimes will have a much better view of the area and can alert the ground staff to on coming people that may need to be redirected, or communicate some traffic control that is required. With all the added communication via the headsets makes for a much safer and more efficient work site which should always be of the highest priority.
The new TuffTalk headset
SENA have also just launched a new line of headsets call ‘TuffTalk’. The TuffTalk system by Sena is a set of ear muffs design by Sena that has the whole system integrated into the ear muff itself, meaning no installation time and easily clip the system to any helmet and remove it when not required. It is as simple as switching out a pair of earmuffs in your hard hat.
This system/design is slightly more exposed for the tree climber, having the stiff microphone boom sticking out, and having the control buttons on the ear muffs that can be accidentally pressed while climbing through the canopy of a tree.
I am a huge fan of my Husqvarna ear defenders before they snap down onto my ears making a great seal. The Sena uses the same system as the Peltor ear muff with two thin rods of metal coming from the mounting and personally they don’t clamp down on my ears as much as the Husqvarna ones do, but if you use Peltor/3M/Stihl muffs the Sena is the same system as these.
If you haven’t tried these Bluetooth headsets you must! Trust me you won’t regret it!
They make work more enjoyable, much less stressful, everyone on the crew knows what’s happening, create a safer work environment and make you appear much more professional to your clients and to onlookers. Once you make these part of everyday life you’ll think how ridiculous it was with all that screaming and shouting.
To view the range of awesome headsets sold by SENA visit their website. You can also order these products through Wesspur (US), TreeStuff (US) and TreeNorth Industries (Canada) or at your local arborist supply stores.