Safety on the Job site, and the lack there of!

Let me tell you about some of the stuff that I have seen since I started doing tree work, better known by pro”s as Modern Arboriculture.  I have seen fingers ripped off, legs broken, houses crushed and I have seen one fatality in this line of work. ALL PREVETABLE. I have seen, several times, tree workers get hurt because they are not wearing the proper safety gear. Most men feel that they are too tough to wear it, that it’s “dumb” and unnecessary. They are the first ones to cry when it happens to them! If they had on the gear, they wouldn’t be complaining. You will see a guy up in a tree, they may have their saddle on, but no ear or eye protection. Sometimes, very few and far between, I will see a guy with a hard hat on!

Most services have no idea how to rig a tree down safely. They take huge chances to get the job done fast, only exposing themselves, their customers’ property, all to save a little time. The term “it’s easier to cut up on the ground” is always said. Not true.  They approach the tree with reckless abandonment. Making choices on time, rather than safety. This often results in a longer, harder day for everyone. Many times I have seen a tree cutter with a little bit of rigging knowledge, swing big leaders around, trying to “go big” so they can get down. The reason they don”t go out on the tips of the branches and break it down is, because they are scared. Now don”t get me wrong, if I were to tell you I don’t get nervous up there, I would be lying. Some trees are just scary.  The reason they are scared is they don”t possess the skill to do it efficiently. To them, it seems like it takes too long to rig out all the pieces, but they cannot see the big picture. Going big, often results in a branch hung up in a tree, a gutter damaged, shingles ripped, etc.  Then when they do get it free, the ground men have to figure out how to get it down to the ground without it hitting power lines, the fence, a shed and so on. Now they have to cut it all up, often right in the danger zone below the Arborist. Stopping him from working, keeping him in the tree longer. (Side note: I have seen climbers do this on purpose as well. They send something down that will be a pain for the ground men, tying ridiculous knots, so it will take the ground men  a while to clear it. Mean time, the climber, who is milking the clock, can text his girl friend or talk to a buddy about cars.) Anyways, this type of work is always going to produce a less than stellar performance, not to mention, constantly putting their people, the customers’ and their property at unnecessary risk.  Me, I go small. I will go out to the tips and work my way back, never cutting anything that the guys cannot immediately escape from and easily remove from the drop zone. This allows the job site to be clean at all times, as the material that comes down, is instantly processed. This reduces the amount of time they are running a saw. Keeps the drop zone free of debris, so the guys can walk and work. All of these little changes from their style to mine reduce our risk. And that is what it is all about, reducing the risk. Risk mitigation and situational awareness are huge in the tree business, just as in the Marines, they are designed to bring everyone home safe.  You have to constantly monitor both of these, at all times. You do this with constant communication. I see these guys, that we will for now on call the “others” I have watched them feed chippers with nothing but daisy dukes and a beer, these are not your neighbors getting together to do a weekend project, but so called tree services. They have no idea the risk they impose and the homeowners do not have a clue of what could happen to them if someone was hurt. A chipper will eat a human and have no regret. I have seen them ride on the outside of a bucket with no safety harness, climb ladders with a 3ft saw, only to cut a branch that hits them on the way down.  I have seen them try to lay a tree over, only for it to go over backward and land on a house. I get calls all the time from various people about the “others” They tell me stories that I just cannot believe, until I go look myself. They use the bucket trucks as cranes. They use crane operators that have no idea of what they are doing (FYI time again, when u are picking a piece of wood, you do not tie it off in a manner that it is going to flip upside down. Anyone who says this is right, obviously has been operating on luck and no skill or training) It is almost too funny to listen to them talk how they are approaching the tree, leaving safety in the truck. They go to work with absolutely no plan. Just getting in the tree and start cutting. Again this is the most dangerous job in the world. Not the crab fishermen on the show. Every year, ANSI produces a list of the top 10 most dangerous jobs. We are on top every year. This is due to no regulation. When you do not have a way of vetting who is who. You ended up with a tree community that is filled with half trained druggies and ex-cons that have no intent on providing a safe work environment, just to get it down by any means necessary. This is why we are on top. If you were to look at all the accidents in the tree industry, you will find that most are preventable and most occurred to those who have no training. Very rarely, do you hear about a Certified Arborist getting killed. Mainly, its bubba with the “others”. Go on youtube, type in tree accidents, you will see. The other culprits of many accidents are the homeowner themselves. Now I do not expect them to understand basic tree care or basic rigging. That is why they should hire a pro. Ask around to your friends and family. Someone close to you has been hurt doing tree work. Recently, here in Bettendorf, a Homeowner was using his ladder to cut a large branch. He broke his back.  I watched first hand as a neighbor came out to “help” us with his saw. I would not have let him, but it didn”t get that far. He started his saw, in his yard, and then ran it right into his leg. I instantly found myself applying first aid to him. This is no joke. He could have died that day in his yard from bleeding to death.  Many of the “others” have a little bit of skill, and they take that little bit of skill as full on training, when really, they have barely made it to the basic level. They understand how to cut a piece of wood, they understand gravity and they can figure out how to tie off large pieces and swing them into the tree. But that is about it.  If you were to ask them how much force they applied to the ropes when they drop something with them, they would have no clue of what you are talking about.  They walk a thin line, always on the verge of destroying something or getting someone killed.  Luck is not a skill, and they have really no understanding of the danger they put themselves in.

Now some will take issues with this, send me nasty comments about  what they think, that”s good! At least we know they can read! Now! there is no more excuses of why they don”t do it right……….right!

“Fear is for the educated, I am not educated, so I have no fear” – Words of a old date palm climber when asked about safety on the job, in the country of India


Comments are closed.