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Tree Care Safety Tools

By Leslie McGuire, Regional Editor

Working at great height while using chainsaws creates opportunities for accidents. Basic equipment should include (from top left, clockwise): An aerial boom strap, an aerial safety waist belt with d-rings that have a 5,000 lb. tensile rating, lanyard and chainsaw protective chaps. However, using common sense is of utmost importance.

Noting that many landscape contractors may want to add arbor care to their business services, we conducted a survey among arborists of the tools and equipment they would recommend as most important in growing a tree care business.

The survey covered everything from heavy machinery to fertilizers, and by far, safety equipment was considered the most important. Tree workers have a higher rate of fatality than police officers. According to Jim Lipot, MBA, founder of Safety Talk, a consulting firm focused on safety and safety training in the workplace, the # 1 cause of fatal injury in tree services is contact with equipment or objects. The # 2 cause is falling and together they account for 60% of all fatalities. The #1 cause for nonfatal injuries in tree service is falling. In other industries the # 1 cause of fatalities is transportation incidents

Most employers rely on their workers’ compensation insurance company to provide safety information in addition to equipment and safety training. However, most of the insurance companies do a once-a-year inspection at the main office and don’t visit the work site. Therefore, it’s contingent on the employer to set safety procedures and make sure they’re followed. There are three ways to make sure your personnel are trained. 1. Have a safety expert come out and do training. 2. Request training and additional training materials from your insurance company (at little or no cost). 3. Purchase the training materials and do the training yourself.

In arbor care, it is most important to concentrate on the two-person team and have “tailgate” meetings every week where teamwork procedures such as one-on-one rope work are established and reinforced. Make sure personnel are reprimanded when the procedures aren’t followed. Most important is the need to document, document, document. This doesn’t protect you from all fines, but it minimizes your liability to lawsuits. According to OSHA, regardless of whether an employee injured on the job is a full time hire or a temp worker, your workers’ comp insurer or the temp agency’s workers’ comp insurance company will pay the claim, but you are still liable for any lawsuits.

For safety training in your area, the University of Vermont has a listing service called SIRI (Safety Information Services) and a website with a nationwide registry listing of safety professionals. Their web address is:

Tree Facts

20,000 – Times per minute that a chainsaw piston goes up and down in its cylinder.

88 – Number of feet that the chain on a chainsaw moves per second.


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August 25, 2019, 5:45 am PDT

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