Aerial Lift – Transferring from Bucket to Tree

Moving from the aerial lift to the tree takes planning and practice. Photo from “Best Practices of Safety in Arboriculture.”


Best Practices of Safety in Arboriculture

Best Practices of Safety in Arboriculture” is an illustrated guide to the Z133 Safety Standard, with additional action steps to mitigate risk. Trainers can pair this manual with the Tailgate Safety Training Program and/or other industry references as a way to refresh daily/weekly crew-training sessions.


Transferring from bucket to tree


When transferring from the bucket of an aerial device to a tree in order to complete an arboricultural operation, arborists shall remain secured to the aerial device until they are properly secured to the tree. At no time shall work be performed while an arborist is secured to the aerial device and tree.

Fall-arrest system – full body harness with an energy-absorbing deceleration lanyard and upper-dorsal attachment point

Fall-restraint system – lanyard system to prevent any fall out of the bucket

The typical climber’s saddle, designed for use in a suspension system, is not approved as fall arrest, although there are exceptions.

You can either select a saddle designed to be used as a full-body harness, or wear a full-body harness over your saddle while you are using the lift to gain access. Failure to use approved fall protection is the basis for a “serious” OSHA citation.

Arborists shall remain properly secured at all times when transferring from the bucket of an inoperative aerial device to the bucket of an operative aerial device to facilitate an emergency descent.

Attach to the tree before leaving the bucket. Graphic from “Best Practices of Safety in Arboriculture.”


  • When working in an aerial lift, you must always be secured to the approved anchor point on the lift with one of two types of approved fall protection.
  • Raise the lift to the desired tie-in point in the tree.
  • Remain attached to the lift and set the tie-in point device – either from the bucket or from the ground (ahead of time or with the ground operator’s assistance).
  • Once the tie-in point is set and the climbing system is in place, connect to the climbing system while staying attached to the lift.
  • When you have connected, lower the lift slightly, then, while still in the lift, load-test the tie-in point for strength.
  • Remove the aerial-lift fall-
    protection system. Leave it in the lift for the next user.
  • At this point, you are technically suspended from and secured by your climbing system.
  • Use at least three points of contact to climb onto the bucket lip, then transfer to the tree.
  • Keep in mind the weather conditions may cause the bucket to become slippery.
  • Begin positioning for work.
  • The ground crew should move the lift out of the drop zone to prevent any damage to it. Keep it nearby in case an aerial rescue is needed.
  • If the lift does not reach the desired tie-in point, set an initial, lower tie-in point in the tree, and advance your way up to the intended tie-in point using an alternating-line technique with your climbing line or a 2-in-1 lanyard.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Click to listen highlighted text!