Safety Awareness “Storm Clean-Up”

by THAT’S Safety in Focus
No one wants to experience a catastrophic natural disaster; hurricanes, ice storms, tornadoes all can cause major damage and the cleanup is challenging.  Chainsaws have been an important tool to aid in the clean-up in the aftermath of such devastation.   Many of you are trained professional sawyers and know it is imperative that chainsaws be used properly.  For those of you in the forest industry but who are not trained sawyers, here are some comments to assist in the use of this valuable but potentially dangerous tool.

Do Your HomeworkWhether you are using a chainsaw for the first or for the tenth time, it’s imperative to read the instruction manual before you begin using the product. Users should fully understand how to safely operate a saw. The instruction manual, aka owner’s manual, provides helpful tips on starting, storing, safety features, maintenance and proper clothing, including personal protective equipment. Also, the resource library has useful information on the proper and safe use of chainsaws, including specific materials on storm clean-up.It is highly recommended that you review the details on safety features designed to minimize the risk of injury.  As stated above, the instruction manual provides recommendations on the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) to wear while operating a chainsaw.Suit Up Before Revving UpUsers should always take the time to suit up in the recommended PPE every time they’ll be operating a chainsaw. Proper PPE for chainsaws should always include:
  • Leg protection: Choose either protective chaps or protective pants with several layers of cut-retardant material designed to reduce the risk or severity of injury to the body parts. Make sure the inseam length of the leg protection is appropriate for your height.
  • Protective work boots: Boots designed with safety in mind, including a protective toe caps, rugged lugged soles and good ankle support.
  • Eye Protection: Keep specks of sawdust from hitting your eyes by wearing work glasses.
  • Helmet System: Cover your most important asset — your head — with a hardhat that features hearing protection and a full-face screen, shielding your face from flying debris.
  • Gloves: Never handle a chainsaw without gloves. Gloves enable a firm grip and some gloves now are featuring cut-retardant materials.
  • Long-Sleeve Shirt: Keep arms covered in a long-sleeve shirt with a trim fit.
Going to WorkBefore preparing to cut, complete a thorough inspection of the tree or limbs you hope to cut and the surrounding work area.
  1. The first two things to check: the weather report and the time of day. If the weather calls for high winds, rain or other inclement weather, it’s best to delay. Avoid starting a job close to dusk; you need full visibility to evaluate the work area and operate the chainsaw.
  2. Check the condition of the tree(s) before cutting to see if working on or around it poses any risks. Watch for power lines and other utility wires.
  3. Assess the size of the tree(s) to ensure your chainsaw and guide bar length is appropriate.
  4. If you’re working with a partner, plan where you’ll both be positioned while working. Make sure you have two safe exit strategies. No one on the work site should be within a distance of 2.5 times the length/height of the tree you are cutting.
  5. Ensure you have solid footing when operating the saw.
  6. Be aware of the reactive forces involved with a rotating saw chain – there are three types of forces possible: Pull-in, Push-back and Kickback.
  7. Take frequent rests and perform maintenance on your saw as required.
For those who are not professionally trained sawyers, if the job seems too large or complicated, call a professional who can bring in the equipment and expertise necessary to safely and efficiently address the clean-up situation.

Kent Hall
THAT’S Foundation Chairman