Aerial lift operators have two options. They can wear a full body harness with a dorsal attachment and a shock absorbing lanyard that is connected to the upper boom and designed to decelerate a falling person and bring a them to a gradual stop should they fall or be launched from the bucket or platform (This is a fall arrest system). Or an operator may wear a body belt and connect to the upper boom with a very short lanyard intended to prevent the operator from being able to fall from the bucket or platform at all (This is a fall restraint system). Each has its advantages and disadvantages. Though the fall restraint system is relatively simple and inexpensive, it restricts body movement when working. However if we were to lengthen the lanyard, it would no longer be able to prevent a fall from occurring. Even with a shock absorbing lanyard, a fall in a body belt could be catastrophic because a body belt is not intended or designed to suspend or catch a person that has fallen. For this reason the fall arrest system may be preferred. Remember to inspect your chosen system every day for signs of wear or stress!
In reality it is both. The challenge here is that each has his/her own job to do and they may not always be paying close attention to each other. Too often someone voices a command and assumes it was heard and understood. We often hear a worker in a tree yelling “headache” or “heads up” as they are dropping a piece of wood out of the tree. This may be something a crew member may or may not hear or acknowledge but would a homeowner or pedestrian understand this? Also with the loud equipment we work with at times it may be difficult to hear a command. A good practice is to wear a whistle. At ArborMaster we encourage the use of a simple voice command/response system. If I am in a tree and am taking out any piece of equipment (handsaw, chainsaw, rigging block, etc.) that might be dropped to the ground, I want to own that space below me so that no one is in danger of being hurt. The command ‘STAND CLEAR’ is clear and to the point but it is equally important that I wait for the response “CLEAR” if a person is speaking for themself only and/or‘ALL CLEAR’ if a person is speaking for more than one member of the crew before I proceed. Conversely, if the ground worker needs to come into that area to clear brush or cut wood, they signal ‘COMING UNDERNEATH’ and wait for the ‘CLEAR’ or ‘ALL CLEAR’. Now they own that space until further stated. This way a running dialogue between the ground worker and climber will ensure that one hand knows what the other is doing.
Communicating with your clients about safety is the best strategy. Print up a one-page summary of your company's safety practices – and WHY these practices make you more productive in the long run – and include them with every bid, contract, and sales call. Give your management, leadership, and crews some appropriate verbal responses to clients who complain that things are taking too long. Responses such as "I understand that you're under pressure to get this done quickly, but if I take shortcuts, it very well could end up taking longer" can help others to understand the importance of keeping everyone professionally focused, safe, and cool under pressure. It is a well documented fact that people who feel safe work faster then people that do not feel safe.
Daniel Webster defines an accident as an unplanned event. So, to avoid accidents, plan! When felling trees, it is vital to have and use a felling plan. A five-step felling plan that incorporates up-to-date cutting methods is widely used by professional chain saw operators worldwide. Using it will help you to achieve successful results consistently. 1. Identify height and hazards –. Look for tree defects, decay, heavy lean, electrical conductors, or any other characteristics of the tree that may affect the felling plan. Consider obstacles within the felling site such as structures, pavement, and outdoor furnishings. Some can be moved if necessary, others will have to be avoided. Assess the strength and direction of the wind. Decide on the felling direction. 2. Assess the side lean – This often determines whether or not the hinge will hold and it also determines the “good” and “bad” sides of the tree for the feller to stand when making the final cut. 3. Escape route – Always think about your escape route before you begin the felling operation. The escape route should be at a 45-degree angle opposite the felling direction. Be sure your escape route is clear of obstacles or hazards before beginning. 4. Hinge plan – The face notch and hinge are critical to safe, accurate, consistent results. Plan the size, depth, and placement of the notch. Determine the desired thickness and length of the hinge. 5. Back cut technique – The back cut is often taken for granted, yet is often the cause of felling accidents. Forward or back lean may determine what kind of back cut you will use: the straight forward back cut or the bore cut. The degree of forward or back lean will determine how many wedges and/or whether a pull rope will be necessary and how much power may be required to pull the tree over. Remember that if the tree is too thin there may not be enough wood for a notch, hinge, bore cut, and back/holding strap. In that case it will be necessary to use ‘the straight forward back cut’. Remember to finish the felling cut on the “good” side of the tree and use your escape route as soon as the tree begins to fall. For more information, check out our series of articles on Chainsaw Safety and Techniques.