Tree Safety Tips

Tree removal

Removing or pruning a tree

Any tree, even small ones can be a dangerous task that should only be left to trained professionals. Even though landscapers, and other green industry companies advertise tree pruning and removal, a thorough knowledge of chainsaws and their safe use is paramount. When getting bids don’t just ask about the trees themselves, ask about safety training. Many companies utilize tailgate safety sessions, videos, field manuals, practice climber rescue techniques and other “real life” scenarios.

Anybody can claim to be able to remove or prune a tree, but landscapers and lawn companies usually do what they do best and aren’t well versed in tree safety procedures-such as call and response, utilizing “Hi-Vee” ropes for visibility and differentiation between climbing and rigging, being able to discern or distinguish various types of lines or wires running through and around trees, or being able to properly do a pre-climb or pre-work inspection of the site or tree, looking for and identifying hazards or potential problem areas. They often don’t have the proper equipment, nor would they know how to use it if they did.

Although not directly related to safety, as an aside a prospective customer recently called Takoma Tree Expert’s LLC and wanted someone to make a determination as to why cables, recently installed by another “company” were constantly falling out. Cabling involves installing steel wire cables between two trunks by various means-suffice it to say that like everything else there are proper and improper ways to do so as well as industry specifications describing proper materials, and installation techniques that professionals follow.

It took only a glance up into the tree for Takoma Tree Experts’ estimator to determine that the customer had been duped and had thrown good money away: What had been installed in her tree was very light duty, hardware store junk-something a hobbyist might use for a home project-nothing resembling the extra high strength cable or lag bolts that professionals and ANSI (American National Standards Institute) recommend was used.

I bring this up in a discussion that started out about safety to point out that there are many ways to identify less than professional companies and clearly someone who does not have knowledge of basic cabling systems or any other aspect of tree work for that matter very likely does not adhere to recommended safety practices-in other words, if you meet with an estimator or if an estimate is simply left at your door, follow up with questions regarding specifications, safety practices, ask if they follow ANSI Z133 safety protocols. If you get a response like: Huh? or “I’ll get back to you on that” or “ANSI who?” you might want to keep shopping.

Most landscapers and non-tree guys representing themselves as arborists do have a working knowledge of trees-they may know basic pruning cuts, might be able to care for shrubs, saplings, very small ornamental trees with a handsaw, but when it comes to climbing, using a chainsaw in the crown of a tree, or removing limbs over a residence you want to defer to a professional.

I understand the lure of low price-it’s seductive, it’s a prime consideration for most customers, certainly everyone wants to save money and customers may tend not to ask the hard questions when comparing estimates where one is half price of another-but in an industry where there are few second chances price alone shouldn’t be the primary consideration (we receive in our office every month a newsletter and magazine from TCIA-Tree Care Industry Association, detailing fatalities and injuries in the tree business-most of the victims were not professionals-although it doesn’t make for light reading, it’s always an eye opener).

We recommend that you shop professional tree companies to perform, well… professional tree service-saving money is great, but not at the cost of subpar work, cables that fall out, improper pruning cuts that won’t heal, and most of all at the risk of injury or worse.

So ask questions, do research, and realize that not just anybody running around in a truck with a chainsaw can do tree work safely or properly-why pay to have someone ruin your trees or themselves on your property?

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