by Tim Ard, Forest Applications Training, Inc.
During workshops, as we begin hands on saw work, I am often asked what to do if a mistake happens…what do you do then? Can you cut it again? Repair your mistake? Sometimes the answer is yes but usually I explain it this way. Does it take more time to be precise or does it take more time to do something poorly?
We tend to think it’s faster and more productive to do things without taking a lot of time. We hesitate to step back and form a plan or study a subject or situation before we start. I have found that not doing this, and not being precise, usually ends in a poorly accomplished result and quite often a lot more time to complete the task.
Cutting down a tree, Falling on the West Coast and Felling on the East, is deemed to be a task that requires some knowledge, a little experience and a good plan to accomplish it safely and successfully. This is very true. When it comes to a tree cutting operation at home or on the job, I often hear that one says they will contact a professional company (which is very smart) or they say we don’t really do the dangerous stuff, we don’t cut them down, we just cut them up after they fall. Both of these tasks still rely on some planning and a decision to call someone or don’t attempt it.
I hear stories weekly of saw use, whether cutting down a tree or cutting one up, that didn’t sound like it went too well. Something was damaged or someone was injured involving a chainsaw.
How important is being precise or poor with cuts made with a chainsaw? Why is it so important our notch cuts meet, our back cuts are on the right level, the hinge is sufficient and our position or escape plans are in the right place or direction? Does it take more time to be precise or at least have our actions follow a recognized plan/technique?
I listen to saw operators tell me they have to hurry, the boss expects me to be quick, I don’t have time to slow down and look at everything, sharpen every time it’s dull, or clean the chainsaw every time I finish a job. If I did, I would never get anything done. It’s sad people fall or grow into this poor attitude.
Does it take more time to be precise — do things right? What if we practiced doing things right, correctly. Would we get faster at it, more efficient at doing things precise? In accomplishing this we do need a baseline for our efforts, something to measure against. That’s where training comes into the picture.
We have all been trained by someone or trained through our own experiences, the seat of our pants so to speak. Soren Eriksson use to say that experience is our best teacher but we have to realize there are two types of it — Good and Bad. Better to learn the good on your own and the bad from someone else, it’s often less painful that way.
So, what’s the problem with learning correctly and practicing it, forming experience from it, and getting better at being precise? Does it take longer to make two cuts meet, to cut straight and level. If we learn the way to best approach the task and practice, it will become our ability — our experience.
Over the years I have asked groups to raise their hand to these three questions.
- How many of you have used a chainsaw in the past few months?
- How many of you have had any type of hands on training in chainsaw operation?
- How many have read an owners manual from your chainsaw manufacturer?
It’s my opinion that the key to being productive and maintain safety is to have a good base to build upon.
Except for question number 1, I rarely see a hand go up. What this illustrates is many times operators haven’t been exposed to the easiest, most productive and safest techniques. What are you practicing?
Tim Ard is president and lead instructor of Forest Applications Training, Inc. A training company specializing in chainsaw operations and safety. For more information visit www.ForestApps.com or info@ForestApps.com to discuss available training.
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