Few people realize how dangerous tree service work can be and that tree safety precautions are necessary when working with trees. According to the Society of Commercial Arboriculture, the odds of a tree service worker being seriously injured or killed in any given year are about 1 in 120. That equates to a fatality rate for tree service workers that is three times higher that of a police officer or firefighter.
Tree Safety Tips
With those sobering statistics in mind, we highly recommend you use an ISA certified arborist for any extensive tree service work. But for those weekend warriors who want to tackle some light tree work themselves, here are some safety tips that can help protect you.
- Read the equipment instructions Whether you’re using pruning shears or a chainsaw, read the operation instructions on this equipment before you start using it. (For more on chainsaw safety, see our article, “Chainsaw Safety: Ten Tips That Can Reduce Your Risk of Injury.”)
- Wear protective clothing Protective clothing is a must, especially if you’re using a chainsaw. We recommend wearing a hard hat, goggles, leather gloves and hard-toe work boots. Chaps are also a good idea to protect your legs.
- Inspect the work area for hazards Before beginning any tree work, it’s best to check the tree for hazards. There may be loose branches that are ready to fall or hidden bee hives that could cause serious problems if disturbed. Take the extra minute or two to look before starting.
- Never trim trees from a ladder Falls are the second biggest injury category for professional tree service workers. Never trim trees from a ladder and never climb up into the tree to trim. If you can’t trim your tree from the ground, it’s best to contact a tree care professional to do the work.
- Don’t trim trees in bad weather Most tree service companies do not work in bad weather. You shouldn’t either. Rainy or windy conditions ‘ create hazardous situations that can lead to injury.
- Don’t trim trees by yourself Whenever possible, have an adult friend or family member with you when you’re trimming trees. That way, if an accident occurs and you require emergency medial attention, help will be available.
- Clear the area When branches, tree sections or entire trees are cut they can fall to the ground and strike anyone that has not vacated the area. Professional tree service workers call this type of accident, “struck bys” and it is the number one cause of serious injury and death while working on trees. Make sure you keep everyone a safe distance from any tree that is being cut or pruned.
- Take extreme care when removing storm debris More people are seriously injured or killed while cleaning up from the aftermath of a hurricane, than from the actual hurricane. Tackle only the small cleanup jobs and leave the large jobs like tree removal, to tree care professionals.
- Stay away from overhead power lines This may seem like an obvious recommendation, but every year both professional and amateur tree trimmers are killed when they come in contact with power lines. If you have trees that come too close to power lines, let a professional tree trimmer do the job.
- Contact utility companies before you dig If you are digging a hole in your yard to plant a tree, or for any other reason, you are required by law to contact utility companies. In Florida it’s easy. All you need to do is call one organization, Sunshine State One Call at 800-432-4770 and they will contact the appropriate utility companies for you.
Jon Wilbur is an ISA Certified Arborist and co-owner of Pinellas Tree Service, in Clearwater.
Free Information Guide
Want to learn more? Our FREE Information Guide: “How To Choose The Best Tree Service Company To Care For Your Trees” can help. Just call us at 727-474-0356 for your copy.
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