Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Planning A Storm

Planning A Storm
By Tim Ard, Forest Applications Training, Inc.

To plan a storm… sounds strange doesn't it? We really shouldn’t need to plan a storm; they seem to happen too often and too frequently as it is. There is some type of storm, flood or natural disaster that seems to be taking place somewhere in the U.S. and around the world daily. So why plan?

When the storm hits, no matter what type and where, one of the first tools that’s requested and called into action is guess what? The chainsaw. Thought of to be one of the top dangers of all tool operation, second possibly to only the devastation of the storm itself, is called into action to begin the clean up operations. So why plan? Why plan the storm?

An accident is an unplanned event! So, during storm clean up, here are a few scenarios to consider planning around:

A volunteer, wearing running shoes, steps on a board with a nail in it and punctures his foot through the soft bottom of the shoe.

A volunteer, moves a limb to a pile beside the road, passes another volunteer and the second is struck in the eye.

A man cleaning a lawn, under a willow tree, is hit in the top of the head by a small falling limb and it stabs him in the top of his head causing injury and a quick trip to the emergency room.

A chainsaw operator cuts a storm fallen tree. The root system, bent over underground, and when the trunk is severed the remaining trunk stands rapidly back up. A child was in the area playing while adults were working the tree clean up. The child was crushed and killed under the roots.

A homeowner rushes around his property after a storm trying to pick up debris and remove a fallen tree in his back yard. He approaches the fallen tree and steps on a wire, thinking the power is off, and is electrocuted.

A chainsaw operator with a recently purchased saw was pushing, the now dulling or dull saw, through a limb on a storm fallen tree. The limb was bent and loaded with pressure and when the saw finally made it through the cut the saw was thrown quickly back toward the operator’s left leg. He was rushed to the emergency room.

A storm clean up volunteer was assisting, by pulling brush and limbs to a pile behind a chainsaw operator. As the limb was pulled it caused a pinch of the saw bar and the operator pulled the saw free and into his right leg just above the ankle.
A worker was assisting a chainsaw operator by pulling brush from the debris line. The chainsaw operator turned around, not knowing the position of the worker, and cut the worker pulling brush in the right arm.

A chainsaw operator is cutting a top clear on a wind broken tree when another chainsaw operator decides to fell the standing trunk. The operator on the top is quickly knocked down with his saw to the ground.

I have spoken to many groups over the years on chainsaw applications and most deal with the use of a saw after a storm at some point. The stories above- all came from real stories related to me during breaks and conversations.

I have found, in my experience anyway, that once a storm takes place it’s too late for training. Yes, review can be suggested and plans can be formulated but the information needed to be in practiced regarding saw maintenance and cutting techniques will not be taken into use and reality once the volunteering at the work site begins. Unless, the basis of knowledge is already in place the safety will not be in place.

Safety is an awareness of the things that can cause accidents and injury. You cannot put together a plan to prevent accidents if you are unaware of the issues that may cause them.

Volunteer groups have been organized in several areas across the country for cleanup work on recent floods and tornados. Organizing groups like the Baptist Disaster Relief and Samaritan’s Purse have extensive training programs to train volunteers prior to storm needs. FEMA and the Red Cross teams utilize these organizers as well as their own. However, there are many Church and Civic Organizations that want to help, and because of the many needs, thousands of volunteers approach storm clean up operations with little or no awareness training.

A smaller organizer(s) should work hard to plan the storm! Seek the experience of some of the larger groups for training prior to the need. Understand please that you cannot wait until the need arises to gain the training knowledge and awareness. At a minimum, the need to have key people trained to be able to organize the volunteers and have needed equipment and tools ready to go should be in place.

From a chainsaw operations standpoint:

Have your equipment ready to go. The chainsaw(s) to be used must be in top working condition. The Operator’s Manual should accompany the saw along with any necessary tools specific to the unit. Operators should be familiar with the particular saw type before work begins.

Spare guide bars and saw chains should be with the saw(s) to the storm worksite.

Mixed fuel and chain oil should be located and supplies planned ahead to accomplish the work.

Sharpening systems must be considered and or located and an operator must practice and understand when a chain is sharp and dull. When the chain needs sharpening. A dulled saw chain is relatively more dangerous in storm damage work.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is to be required of all chainsaw operators on the worksite. NO exceptions! Head, eye, ear, hand and leg protective wear as well as boots should be on all chainsaw operators. If volunteers show up with chainsaws they should not use them on the worksite without having proper PPE in place.

A plan of work for the area involving the chainsaw operators should be formulated and supervised by the trained organizing/team leader. The chainsaw operator’s tasks should begin with lead-time from the dragging, brushing and moving debris work. In some cases larger equipment will need to be in place in the plan before ground volunteers/workers are brought into the worksite. The work of pulling and moving the debris must be time spaced after the sawing. It doesn’t have to be more than just a few minutes separated, but distance (time space) needs to be between chainsaws, equipment and workers on the ground moving debris.

Workers do not hold limbs, logs, etc for the chainsaw operator’s to cut.

Large equipment does not hold limbs or logs for chainsaw operators to cut. Move it to location for safe cutting.

Workers/volunteers moving debris by hand should have heavy-duty footwear with traction soles. Preferably high top work boots with ankle support. No running shoes, sneakers or sandals allowed. Safety glasses and work gloves are required. If debris, limbs and standing trees are still over the worksite, hardhats are required. In some site conditions a dust mask is required. According to the task, but especially with tree debris work, long pants and long sleeve shirts are proper work apparel.

You may think of a few more bullet points for storm planning that can be added to these. I am continuing to compile more as I think though what’s needed in different storm scenarios. Elvex Safety has agreed to sponsor and produce a storm planning video to include these thoughts and also the most important cutting techniques related to chainsaw operations. Visit www.forestapps.com and subscribe to our free ChainPoint eNews for more future details.

Forest Applications Training, Inc. is a training company with over 20-years of history specializing in chainsaw applications and safety for logging, tree care, government agencies and disaster relief. Tim Ard is the President and Lead Instructor and has conducted chainsaw training in over 40 states. For information call 770-222-2511 or write info@forestapps.com .

© Copyright 2011 Forest Applications Training, Inc. Reprint with permission acceptable. info@forestapps.com

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Monday, May 2, 2011

Kick Back...

Kick Back...
By Tim Ard, Forest Applications Training, Inc.

Too often I hear the term used... Someone using a chainsaw and a cut happens to someone's leg or other body area and the culprit is defined as... Kick Back.

Kick Back, from a chainsaw definition, is a reactive force that is produced by the rotating saw chain as it ascends around the upper guide bar nose. When the saw chain is touched or pinched as it goes around this area, the reaction is an upward rotation of the guide bar tip, it rotates upward in the direction the bar is aligned. Too often toward the operator.

It is my own theory, collected from questioning those attending class that have been previously cut with a chainsaw, that many times the term Kick Back has two definitions. The second occurrence is not related to the chainsaw directly, but to what it is cutting. Many times the chainsaw is thrown back toward the operator by the pressures held in the wood material or limb being cut. One such situation is what we describe as a Spring Pole. You can read more about Spring Poles in articles on our website www.ForestApps.com.

Other situations that may cause a saw to be thrown toward the operator may be described as movement caused by side binds, weight and pivots that are sometimes difficult to recognize as we make cuts with the saw on a downed tree. The tree may be over a stump, ridge or other pivot that when cut may come up or go down quickly when the piece is severed. A limb may be held down on the end and when a covering limb or support is severed the movement can be inches or in some cases feet. This quick movement can surprise even the best of us.

The answer to controlling either type of Kick Back? Plan each cut thoroughly. Make sure your footing and body position are such to control any saw movement. Maximize your reaction time by considering the possible movement of the material or the chainsaw. Use a sharp saw chain when working. Pushing and pulling on a saw, because of dull chain, is not something you want to deal with when standing next to material that may be loaded. Pushing may even further load the situation too...

Always wear Personal Protective Equipment when operating a chainsaw. Even the best of plans may miss a little something and could end in an unplanned accident event. PPE can sometimes lessen an injury should an accident occur...

Kick Back of any type is important to understand and your ability and knowledge of it is the key. Read about it in your chainsaw's operators manual and then visit our website for more applications.

More info at www.ForestApps.com

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