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Understanding the dangers in tree maintenance

 
 
Golf course and grounds maintenance crews devote most of their time and energy to mowing, fertilizing, irrigating, cultivating, controlling pests and managing turf. However, most not only have turfgrass to care for, but also have trees and other ornamental plantings to maintain.

Although trees may not need the constant upkeep that turfgrass and plant beds do, they do need proper care.

Did you know that logging (i.e. cutting down trees) is the most dangerous job in the United States? That's right, loggers have a higher death rate than commercial fishermen and related fishing industry workers, structural iron and steel workers, electrical power-line installers and police officers, just to name a few. So, if it's that dangerous for the professionals, how dangerous do you think it is for those who spend most of their time managing turf?

Here are some do's and don'ts to help keep you and your crew safe.

Do
  • Know your limitations, and call professional tree-care experts for tough jobs.
  • Select the right tools for the job—hand saws, loppers, pruning shears, pole saws, chainsaws, wedges, axes, ropes and other job-specific tools. When used correctly, the rightt tools make the job easier and safer.
  • Wear all personal protective equipment (PPE), including a hard hat with face shield, safety glasses or goggles, hearing protection, chaps (if using a chainsaw), gloves and sturdy (or steel-toe) work boots.
  • Properly maintain all tools and equipment, including cleaning, sharpening and repairing between use.
  • Train all employees and make sure they are aware of the hazards common with tree-care duties.
  • Make sure escape routes are clear of tripping hazards at all times.
  • Assess the situation before starting any tree-care activities. Make sure the fall area is free of powerlines, other trees, people, pets or livestock and equipment.
  • Watch for and warn bystanders or anyone who might enter the fall area.
Don't
  • Operate a saw above shoulder height.
  • Operate a saw standing on a ladder or in a loader bucket.
  • Walk with a running chainsaw.
  • Use chainsaws if the safety devices have been disabled.
  • Allow inexperienced operators to fell trees.
  • Leave a tree partially cut.
  • Take on a job beyond your experience and ability. Instead, call in a professional.
  • Work alone with a chainsaw. Never, under any circumstances, operate without a coworker nearby for assistance!

Protection isn't just advised, it's required

It's vital to wear PPE when engaged in tree-care jobs. The following PPE must be used when hazards make it necessary:
  • Head Protection – Hard hats prevent injuries to the head caused by falling objects and must meet ANSI/ISEA Z89.1 standards.
  • Hearing Protection – Most chainsaws operate at more than 100 dB. Exposure to this noise level can damage hearing in just a few minutes. Earplugs typically have a higher NRR (Noise Reduction Rating) than earmuffs, but are harder to properly fit. Ear plugs in combination with earmuffs offer increased protection.
  • Eye/Face Protection – Must be worn where there is potential for injury to the eyes or face and must comply with the ANSI Z87.1 standard. Mesh visors are adequate face protection for chain saw operators, but they should not be worn without safety glasses or goggles.
  • Leg Protection – Anyone operating a chainsaw must wear leg protection made with cut-resistant material. The leg protection must extend from the upper thigh down to the boot top and adequately cover the leg.
  • Foot Protection – Must cover the ankle and have heavy tread, nonskid soles. Steel or composite toes are recommended but not required.
  • Hand Protection – Leather gloves provide protection from cuts, abrasions and punctures. Gloves made of ballistic nylon are recommended for chainsaw use. Visit gemplers.com to see our full selection.
NOTE: OSHA requires PPE to be inspected prior to use on each work shift to ensure it is in serviceable condition.
 
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