Tree cutting can be a dangerous job. No matter whether you are simply cutting for firewood or taking out a dead tree on your property, numerous considerations must be accounted for. These include power lines, broken branches and the weather. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) more people are killed during tree cutting than any other logging related activity.
Assume All Power Lines are Active
According to OSHA, one of the most important tree trimming tips is to assume that all power lines in or around a tree to be cut, are active. "If clearing trees, contact the utility company to discuss de-energizing and grounding or shielding of power lines," the OSHA website states. In addition, they recommend exerting extreme caution when moving ladders and other equipment around a downed tree and power lines, and perform a hazard assessment of the entire work area before starting any new project.
Eliminate Throwback, Dangerous Terrain and Widowmakers
Throwback occurs as a tree falls through other trees or lands on an object, causing debris to get thrown back toward the tree cutter. According to the New York State Department of Health, throwback can be eliminated by clearing any tree or object that could obstruct the cutting process. When possible avoid felling trees into other trees or any other object.
In addition, if a tree falls on uneven ground, rocks or other tree stumps, a hazard could be created. Avoid this by moving the obstacle or changing the felling direction, NYSDH states.
Finally inspect the project to locate "widowmakers," or broken-off limbs that are hanging freely in the tree to be felled, or in a nearby tree. Avoid working under these limbs at all cost. If necessary pull these limbs down prior to felling the tree.
Watch for Wind
According to UME, strong winds can cause a tree to fall in an unintended direction. "A gusty, erratic wind increases the difficulty of landing the tree where you wish," the website states. For this reason, do not cut a tree on a windy day. The wind can push the crown of the tree causing unexpected results. However, UME also advises that during the fall and winter months wind has less effect on hardwood trees such as oak, maple and sweetgum.