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Thursday, Mar. 5, 2015

Use caution when cutting trees

Thursday, April 16, 2009

In light of current events and recent accident reports, it is important to publish this safety reminder.

The destructive effects the late January ice storm had on trees in the area is still quite visible and will be for some time to come.

With professional tree services booked up with jobs for weeks in the future, many homeowners have resorted to self reliance by taking on limb removal on their own.

In most cases, other than some sore muscles and the cost of purchasing extension pole cutting saws, things have worked out fine.

Even the most experienced tree trimmers will tell you, "This is a dangerous operation."

With a few days of warmer spring weather arriving recently, there have been several injury reports and a recent fatalities related to tree trimming.

As recent as March 24, an experienced logger from Mount Pleasant, lost his life when he was struck by a falling tree.

Falls from trees resulting in emergency response and serious injury are on the rise as individuals and professional crews continue the difficult task of clearing broken limbs and trees.

We all need to be informed or reminded of some basic safety rules before taking on the dangerous operation of tree trimming or removal.

In preparation for operating any chain saw, one should read the operator's manual and obtain training from someone who is experienced.

Equiping yourself with proper clothing, equipment and safety protection are things you should do before attempting a trimming operation.

Be sure you are physically capable and are mentally alert before operating any dangerous equipment.

The use of alcohol, medications and similar influencing factors can cause you to be a hazard to yourself and others.

The chances of injury becomes much less when you are alert and well rested.

According to government statistics listed on the CDC emergency preparedness Web site, approximately 36,000 people are treated in emergency rooms each year as a result of accidents using chain saws.

After you are sure you have the proper chain saw for the job: have read the chain saw operation manual, checked the chain tention and lubrication system, made sure the cutting chain is properly sharpened, you should be ready to go right?

Well, not yet.

There are several factors which need to be considered before trimming branches or falling a tree.

Survey the landscape and assess the situation. Look for any hazards which might block the fall of limbs or trees.

Ensure that there are no power lines which are entangled with tree limbs or crossing the area which limbs might fall.

If there are any electrical lines which are close to any branches you are planning to remove, contact your electric company to have lines cleared.

Make sure all personal property and structures are well away from any area where debris might fall.

Consider the weight of the tree or limb, which direction the tree is leaning, which way you want the tree or limb to fall, so as not to crash on people, animals, vehicles, power lines/poles or structures (your house).

Will the wind have any effect on how or where the tree or large limb will fall? What about other trees?

Another very dangerous hazard can occur when the cut tree/limb entangles with other limbs or trees and does not fall completely.

Always have an escape plan mapped out should you encounter a situation where it is necessary to get away quickly.

Don't wait until the tree or limb is falling to figure out which way you need to go to escape.

Remember when you were a kid and your parents told you to never run with sharp objects in your hands, Well, that rule still applies here too.

Select a close place, turn off the chain saw, set your chain saw down and quickly retreat at a 45 degree angle. (A chain saw is replaceable, you are not).

The ladder and chain saw

Deer Hill of hubpages.com stated, "Ladder and chain saw are two words that do not belong in the same sentence."

The idea of leaning an extention ladder on the tree and climbing up there to cut off that hanging limb, may not be a wise move.

When you start to remove the ends of the limbs, the weight shift could and most likely will make the base of the limb rise up and the trunk of the tree sway.

There you are with a ladder leaned on the tree, (thinking you are secure) the tree/base of the branch of the limb moves, and you are suspended in mid--air, hanging on to a running chain saw, with a newly sharpened blade.

Unlike in the movies or cartoon caricatures, the ladder, your person, and the running chain saw with a sharp blade, will not defy the laws of gravity.

What about using that painter's ladder you have stashed away in the shed?

That is an idea best left in the shed.

Painter's ladders are just that. The four feet are best balanced on solid level surfaces and hard flooring.

Just balancing yourself on uneven ground can be akin to a tightrope walk.

If you happen to have a three legged pruning ladder, this might work best when you are working on small low hanging limbs which can be pruned with loppers or hand saw.

A large limb could fall and springboard backwards or sideways, taking out one or more of your tripod ladder legs.

This could leave you hanging in mid--air, juggleing that mechanical device (chain saw) which is rotating that newly sharpened blade running at high RPM.

While grabbing onto thin air for the base of the pruning ladder, branches, tree trunk and or any other object to hang on to, the ground is rapidly approaching.

This would not be a pretty juggleing act.

If this has not been convincing enough for hireing a professional yet, then here are a few more tips/reminders to assist in the trimming process.

* Remove any smaller branches from the limb by using a pole saw.

* This will make the larger branch easier to control.

* It should be possible to remove large limbs all at once, but it might be better suited to remove small sections, piece by piece.

* It may be necessary to use a boom and rope to insure the pieces come down in a safe manner.

* Tie a hangman's noose in one end of a sturdy rope. Secure the rope around the limb by slipping the opposite, loose end of the rope through the noose.

* Decide where the limb should land. Take the free end of the rope and loop it over a higher branch or other sturdy object. Use a block and tackle to add tension and hold the limb.

* When making the cut, use the chain saw, to cut a quarter of the way up through the bottom of the limb to avoid bark stripping.

* Tighten the tension on the block and tackle and complete the cut from the top side down.

* Use the block and tackle to lower the limb to the ground, in the selected area.

* When cutting limbs and small branches, which were damaged and hanging, use caution and be aware of kick--back pressure.

* To avoid the damaged limb harpooning backwards or thrusting upwards, make small cuts and remove ends of branches to relieve pressure before making the final cut.

* There should be about a foot long stub remaining as your final section after removing the rest of the branch.

* Caution should be used in making the final cut as not to damage the branch collars or bark ridges. By cutting just outside of this important healing tissue, the tree has a good basis to start healing and regrowth.

Falling the entire tree

* When taking down the entire tree start with a 45 degree notch on the side and direction the tree should fall.

* Cut the bottom of the notch first, about 1/3 of the way through the diameter of the tree.

* The second cut is made at a 45 degree angle that will meet the depth of the first cut.

* The falling cut should be made from the opposite side, about two inches higher than the floor of the notch.

* Do not cut completely through but leave a hinge that will keep the tree from kicking back and upward as it falls.

* The hinge should be about 1/8 to 1/6 of the diameter where the cut has been made, but it may vary, depending on when the tree starts to fall.

* Turn the chain saw off, place it on the ground (don't throw it) and make a 45 degree angle escape, at least 150 feet away from the tree.

* If the tree is well balanced and does not fall on it's own after the final falling cut, two wedges can be used to start the fall and influence its direction.

* Always use two wedges and a sledge larger than the face of the wedge.

* Striking the wedge squarely on the face, the cut tree should began it's rapid decent back to earth.

* Repeat the 45 degree escape route for at least 150 feet away from the falling tree, to safely avoid being in the way of splintering, rolling or kick backs.

* Should the tree begin to roll, do not attempt to stop it.

* Once the tree is stable on the ground and that feeling of "Move over Paul Bunyon the Big tree whacker is in town," the job is done, right?

* Nope, another part of this operation still needs to be done.

Limbing

* Keeping in mind to stand uphill from the tree trunk, saw on the opposite side of the tree trunk whenever possible.

* This will keep the tree trunk between the operator and the saw blade.

* Watch for limbs and branches which might spring back when they are cut.

* Be cautious of the tree or limb rolling after the pressure of a limb has been trimmed.

* Here are some recommended key safety tips:

* Always avoid making cuts with the saw between your legs, always cut with the saw to the outside of your legs.

* Don't stand on a log and saw between your feet.

* Always stand to one side of the limb you are to cut, never straddle it.

* Always keep in mind where the chain will go if it breaks, never position yourself or other people in line with the chain.

* Keep the chain out of the dirt, debris will fly, the teeth will be dulled and the chain life shortened considerably.

OSHA recommends these tree trimming and removal safety tips.

* Do not trim trees in dangerous weather conditions.

* Perform a hazard assessment of the work area before starting work.

* Operators of chain saws and other equipment should be trained and the equipment properly maintained.

* Use personal protective equipment such as gloves, safety glasses, hard hats and hearing protection.

* Determine the tree's falling direction. Address forward lean, back lean, and/or side lean issues.

* Determine the proper amount of hinge wood to safely guide the trees's fall.

* Provide a retreat path to a safe location.

* Inspect tree limbs for strength and stability before climbing. Tree trimmers working aloft must use appropriate fall protection.

* Do not climb with tools in your hands.

* If broken trees are under pressure, determine the direction of the pressure and make small cuts to release it.

* Use extreme care when falling a tree that has not fallen completely to the ground and is lodged against another tree.

* Never turn your back on a falling tree.

* Be alert and avoid objects thrown back by a tree as it falls.

It is recommended to have more than one person assisting during tree cutting and trimming.

In most cases, mother nature will restore order.



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