Monday, April 25, 2011

Chap up...

Chap Up…

By Tim Ard, Forest Applications Training, Inc.

Chainsaw operators for many years have known about the positive aspects of the leg protective saw chap. Every month though it seems I come across people that didn’t know chaps are available and don’t understand how they work nor their ever increasing need to put them on.

Loggers in the Western USA and the US Forest Service have been using them for decades now and they are increasing in popularity in all the states. Why you say? Because it hurts to be cut by a chainsaw and many of the injuries happen to the operators legs.

Leg protection garments work from what is called the process of jamming. The fiber padding in the chap leg is designed to pull out and jam the chainsaw chain, bar and sprocket to slow the speed of the saw chain and intentionally stop the chain rotation. The process doesn’t mean in every situation that chaps will prevent injury but the intention is to give reaction time and hopefully reduce the injury should the accident occur. I hear almost weekly testimonies of how chaps prevented cuts in accident situations.

Most all leg protection garments have a layered pad of what is called ballistic nylon. These nylon fibers are used in bullet resistant body armor, thus the term ballistic came about. Some are out of a fiber that is white in color and often called warp-knit. Some of the first on the market were from DuPont’s Kevlar® which is a yellow colored fiber. Some others have a combination of both fibers. The fiber is important but the real ability to work with the saw chain is how it’s woven and how the multiple layers are constructed in the pad.

A relatively new padding on the market is available from Elvex Safety. The fiber combination is called Elvex Prolar®. This Prolar® material, used in their leg protection products, is designed specifically for chainsaw leg protection. The material when hit by the moving saw chain pulls out and wraps the saw drive system as others but then it appears to explode (so to speak, it expands) and jams quickly. The result is a new generation Elvex ProChaps tested in compliance by Underwriter’s Laboratories in accordance with ASTM F-1414, Measurement of Cut Resistance to Chain Saw Lower Body Protective Clothing.

It is important too that leg chaps are comfortable and the design is such that it covers the legs in a fashion that reduces the chance of twist. If the straps are uncomfortable or the position of the leg pad is not positioned correctly, the chain will find its way to your leg. A design that seems to work best with this twist possibility is one called asymmetric. The pad is positioned slightly to the left of the chap leg to aid in preventing the twist, giving more coverage area and reaction time.

Outer materials of the garment you choose is related to the amount of wear you plan. There are lighter weight and heavy weight outer materials, usually of Cordura® fabrics. The pads are the same, so it doesn't effect their protection. There are a variety of sizes and lengths however that can effect safe coverage. You want to make sure to cover from your groin area to the top of your footwear. Also available are full wrap designs that cover the back of the leg, your calf area.

Two labels important to look for when purchasing are the testing classification label and the care instruction label. Make sure your chaps are designed for chainsaw protection and that you can easily clean them when they become soiled. Dirty, oil soaked protection pads may reduce the ability for the chain to pull out the jamming fibers and enable it to better cut through. Keep them clean…

My emphasis during training workshops is to never use your saw without Leg Protection and other important PPE items of Head, Hand, Eye, Ear, Face and Foot Protection. The ever-increasing need I wrote of earlier is simply - it costs more to repair you, a friend or family member, than ever before. Make sure you have it and use it!

For more information visit our website

© Copyright 2011 Forest Applications Training, Inc.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Storm Training

Storm Debris Training

By Tim Ard, Forest Applications Training, Inc.

This article outlines a program that is going very well in our portfolio of training workshops. It is the ideal third level day to our hands-on chainsaw training. The workshop is formatted to follow our two-day workshop on felling because a thorough understanding of planning and the workings of the hinge must be in place to maximize the day in pressures and binds.

The workshop begins with a review of planning the worksite and then focuses on each individual cut made on the downed storm tree. Storm hazards, pressures and binds and then a variety of techniques are shown and explained. Ever used hinges to remove a tree that is wind thrown, hung or up against a cable or object? Are sharpening and adjustments of your chainsaw important? All is covered in this workshop.

The day is formatted with the hands on fieldwork accomplished in teams, which is important to most all storm work. Learn to communicate with others in your team and work the tree with minimum fatigue and avoiding workplace injury.

For more information or schedule a Storm Debris workshop contact or Forest Applications Training, Inc. office. Ph. 770-222-2511 or email Contact us today… storms happen daily.

Sunday, April 10, 2011



By Tim Ard, Forest Applications Training, Inc.

The past week I have had several great experiences with workshops across Pennsylvania. As always, it is a pleasure to meet and learn from attendees and pick up understandings, new ways of communicating, chainsaw applications and safety for the future. Some thoughts came to me that I would like to share with you… on Technique.

What is a Technique or where do Techniques come from? Technique is a way of doing something that someone has been taught or learned from one’s experience in accomplishing a task. Sound logical?

How do we know what we are using is the best, safest Technique for the application? Is it because we have seen it, believe in it - or is it because we tested with our plan the Technique’s ability to accomplish our task…. Luck or fact? Experience!

I published an article recently on (taking/observing) tree lean information in the planning process. It’s how I was taught to make sure the information of lean, that I observe and confidently place into my felling plan, would afford me accurate results. The way I was instructed seems to be different than a lot of understanding out in the field. I understand there may be other ways to read the weighted lean of a tree but you know the lean is only part of a great, safe and productive way of felling a tree.

So, how do I know a good Technique? What’s right? What’s wrong?

Simply to begin the answer, lean is not a Technique, part of, but not a Technique. It is one of the most important parts of forming a complete plan and final Technique selection. It remains the hardest part of tree felling for most of us to grasp. It’s a major reason trees go directionally wrong. Because of lean we commonly find our position to be in the wrong place and someone or our saw pinched by the unexpected movement of the tree.

Now, to pass along my thoughts of the Technique selection process I have to better understand every part. For making my point, I am choosing to seek a better platform or illustration of the way lean effects the Technique used in felling a tree.

Technique Exercise

To complete the experiment you will need (1) a string and (2) a weight of some type on the end of the string. You also need (3) a piece of paper with a line drawn on it or a line drawn on the ground. Ready?

Make a plumb line by attaching the weight to the string. Allow the weight to swing free on the string. You have now built a plumb line that will designate a measure of gravitational pull. The weight now centers itself to the earth.

Draw a line on a piece of paper or the ground. That line represents your holding wood or hinge on the stump of your tree. It’s the pivot point or fulcrum on the stump that the tree will pivot on, forward or back. This exercise is illustrating only forward or back lean. (If the hinge does not break and holds the tree attached, the side weight is not a factor in the fall. As with a door, the tree will pivot to the targeted latch on the hinge).

Hold the plumb line in your hand above and on the line (hinge). Your hand represents the center of the crown of the tree. Now line up the plumb line with the line on the ground. At this position your tree is perfectly straight, balanced on the hinge.

Now move your treetop (hand) backward. You have just moved your tree crown’s center weight behind the pivot. The weight of your tree and crown just became back lean.

Move your treetop (hand) forward. You have just moved your tree crown into a forward position in relationship to your pivot hinge. Your tree just became a forward leaner.

Just as you could not deny or change the reading of gravity by your plumb line, you cannot deny the fact that the center weight of your tree crown, in relation to the pivot line (hinge), places the center of your crown into a forward or back lean condition.

Understanding the above, the face notch does not make the tree lean, tilt or swing. The notch allows the hinge to work during the pivot on the hinge but doesn’t change the trees weight movement. With this understanding, if your back cut is not considering the forward or back weight movement in position of the hinge, you will lose control of the tree or the tree will set down on your chainsaw bar. The tree must be supported (wedge or rope) or lifted forward from back lean positions.

Not to have an unplanned, accident event… you must look for Hazards and obstacles, measure and note the two Leans, prepare and use an Escape or retreat path, have a clear plan of Hinge placement and dimension and finally Back cut the fiber up to the hinge, supporting the tree or releasing the tree at a preplanned predetermined time.

Before you begin cutting – Prepare and wear your P.P.E. Make sure your saw is up to condition. If you do not know these, review your manufacturers’ operator’s manual before you pull the starter rope.

There’s not a reason to debate other issues of tree falling until you understand how to measure the two leans and assess the other areas of plan information to form a solid Technique.

I hope this article helps? Questions or comments? Contact Tim by email

Visit for more information on planning, techniques and training the operator in chainsaw applications.

© Copyright 2011 Forest Applications Training, Inc.