By Tim Ard, Forest Applications Training, Inc.
The call comes in, or you look across the yard and see an unexpected site. A tree has uprooted and has fallen over in the recent wind. Luckily this one has not taken any toll on structures or fences. It's not even a large, tree so clean up is not expected to be a major task.
This scenario is found often in storm cleanup across the country. More and too often, I hear of incidents involving downed trees like this that unexpectedly cause injury to chainsaw operators.
Saw chain is given the bad rap in incurring injuries in the cutting process when in reality the operator is not abreast of the possible powers to be In the material being cut. Many times the culprit causing the injury is not the chainsaw but the limb or trunk under pressure. When cut its released rapidly and lifts, flips or flies the material and chainsaw into the operator or bystander.
Lets take a look at the tree that's down again.
We need to realize that all trees have root systems of some type. Often the root diameters under ground are as large or larger than the first limbs in the crown of the tree. This means that when roots let go or are broken in a windstorm and the tree falls over, the roots still submerged underground may be bent backwards. Like a reversed spring pole, these roots create a lot of lift potential that can surprise the operator sawing or coworkers helping in the area.
I've been told many stories of injury taking place when an unknowing operator, simply cutting up the trunk from the top, suddenly is surprised by the tree trunk quickly standing back up to its original position. This movement taking the saw and operator cutting the trunk 20 feet down from the butt with it to 20 feet in the air.
One story was not involving a larger tree but a small one. The operator was straddling the trunk, cut the top off the tree, and it launched he and the saw several feet into the air. That makes me cry in pain just to think about it....
Make certain to put together a plan on each cut you make on a tree that's down. Is it going to move when you make the cut? Up, Down, Toward You, Away? If you are unable to discern the expected results- don't do it!
Trees are powerful creatures when standing and can be powerful when down...
Please consider Personal Protective Equipment when working with any saw. Head, Eye, Hearing, Legs and Feet need to be protected. A person is in critical condition in the hospital today that was cutting a limb with a pole saw, the limb came down striking him slightly. He lost control of the situation, fell down hitting his head and has major brain damage. No helmet or other PPE was in use. Please don't take chances with Unplanned Events!
More information, articles and training programs are available at www.ForestApps.com
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