Pruning Safety in the Vineyard

Eric Stafne, Mississippi State University

Identify non-vine material before making a cut. It’s easy to mistake a wire for a branch when it’s hidden by tendrils. Photo by Lane Greer, Oklahoma State University.

Safety procedures while working in the vineyard are primarily linked to common sense. One period where safety becomes an elevated concern is during pruning. Vines can be pruned manually or mechanically, but prudent safety measures should be used regardless of the method. When pruning manually, follow a few easy tips to prevent injury:

  • Provide (or attend) a pruning safety training.
  • Wear eye protection at all times.
  • Wear leather (or other) appropriate gloves.
  • Keep pruning equipment (pruning shears, loppers, saws, etc.) sharp and clean.
  • Conduct post-pruning maintenance on equipment to keep it in working order.
  • Visually identify non-vine material such as fingers, wires, and posts before making a cut.
  • Keep fingers away from cutting source and the material to be pruned.
  • If appropriate, sterilize equipment after pruning disease-infected material.
  • Pruning done in the dormant season, when the weather can be cold and damp, can lead to a potential for hypothermia. Be sure to dress appropriately for any weather condition.
  • Summer pruning during hot, dry conditions may lead to heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Take water breaks and rest in the shade.
  • Have an emergency plan in place in case an incident occurs. Crew leaders should be familiar with first aid procedures and perhaps be required to have a first aid certification.
  • Be familiar with and meet state requirements for placement of bathroom accommodations with adequate hand-washing facilities.

Reviewed by Fritz Westover, Texas A&M University and
Sara Spayd, North Carolina State University