Trimming and Felling Precautions

Before you begin to cut, you must determine your escape area. This is the area you will go to immediately after the back cut has been made and the tree is beginning to fall. To locate the escape areas, you must first determine the danger zones. Two danger zones can be identified and must be avoided to prevent serious injury or death. The first danger zone is located in a semi-circle, from half the diameter of the tree toward the direction of the fall. The second danger zone is one-quarter of the diameter of the tree and located in the opposite direction of the intended fall. Fellers MUST avoid these two danger zones. The escape areas are then located between the danger zones. Always retreat to one of these areas as the tree is beginning to fall.
  • Use control lines on trees, to direct their fall in the intended direction.
  • When felling, keep a distance of at least twice the length of the tree between the tree and people. 
  • Have a co-worker assist in controlling movement of falling branches. 
  • Stay at least 10 feet away from power lines.  
  • Use an observer to watch out for power lines. 
  • Safety observer should wear protective clothing.
  • All workers and observers should wear hardhat, goggles, hearing protection, fluorescent vest, cut-resistant trousers, and safety boots. 

To safely fell a tree, you must be trained how to:

When a tree must be removed, there are several things to consider before cutting. 1. Ensure coworkers and all others maintain a two-tree length distance. If the tree is going to fall downhill, increase the distance depending on the slope. 2. Look for any fences, buildings or power lines and avoid felling toward them. 3. Work only in good weather. Never work in strong winds, lightning, rain or any time when visibility is low.
Inspect the tree: Is the tree leaning in one direction? This will play a major role in the direction the tree will fall. Check the trunk (where the cuts are going to be made) for knot holes, cracks or signs of rot that could hinder the felling operation. Ensure the tree has no interlocking branches or vines from another tree. If it does, they must be separated prior to felling.

Also, survey the crown of the tree for any material that may break loose as the tree falls. Trim any low branches that are in your way.
  • Figure out the best felling direction.
  • Plan, clear and use an escape path.
  • Figure out the proper hinge size.
  • Use proper controlled felling techniques.
  • Maintain safe separation distances from other workers and machines.
  • Wear required PPE.

Area of Kick-Back | Chain Saws

Kickback is a common cause of injury associated with chainsaws. Kickback occurs when the chain around the end of the bar contacts a hard object (such as a knothole) or when the teeth of the saw are pinched in the wood. This kicks the saw backward and upward, rapidly, where it can strike you.

To reduce kickback: Do not cut with the upper section of the bar. Insert the saw fully. When cutting, always stand at an angle, with a firm balance on the ground or branch, so that if the saw kicks back, it will avoid your neck and head. Make sure your saw has an anti-kickback device.

  • The top front of the bar is the area prone to kick-back.
  • Always keep this in mind.
  • No other part of the saw will work so hard to get you!

While Working | chain saw

Never operate the saw above your chest. Reaching above your chest makes the saw hard to control. Operate the chain saw in a firm two-handed grip with fingers and thumb surrounding the handles. Keep both feet firmly positioned when operating a chain saw. Engage the chain brake before starting the chain saw.

  •  Keep hands on handles.
  • Maintain secure footing.
  • Clear area of things that get in the way.
  • Do not cut overhead.
  • Shut off or throttle released prior to moving.
  • Shut off or chain brake engaged if terrain is hazardous or going more than 50 ft.
  • Wear required PPE

Before Starting Work | Chain Saws

Check controls, chain tension, and all bolts and handles to ensure they are functioning properly and adjusted according to the manufacturer's instructions. With correct chain tension, you get good cutting action and a long chain life. If too loose, a chain will derail; if too tight, a chain will bind. Proper lubrication prolongs the life of the saw and increases safety. Never smoke when you are fueling or using a chain saw. Never drop-start the saw. To start the saw, always brace the saw by placing it on the ground and putting one foot on the bracket to the rear of the saw. Grip the top handle of the saw firmly with one hand and use the other to pull the starting rope.

•Check controls, chain tension, bolts, and handles.
•Adjust according to manufacturer’s instructions.
•Fuel at least 10 ft. from ignition sources.
•Start at least 10 ft. away from fuel.
Start with chain brake on and on the ground or firmly supported. 

Leaf Blower Safety

Keep your hands, face, and feet away from any moving parts.  If your working area is dusty, wear a dust mask. Do not overreach. Always be properly balanced. Be alert if the area you are trimming is wet or on a slope. Use caution while working on steps. Never operate an electric blower if the area is wet. Make sure the air intake is always free of debris. Perform a safety check before and after each time you use the blower. Check and tighten all loose nuts, bolts and screws. Clean the blower after each use.

•If your working area is dusty, wear a dust mask.
•Make sure the area is clear of other people where you will be working.
Always wear proper clothing and eye/face and ear protection while operating blowers.  

Weed Trimmer Safety

Ensure the shield covering the string/blade is in place and secured. Walk the area to be mowed. Pick up debris such as rocks, sticks, bottles, cans, wires, etc. Debris picked up by a mower or trimmer can be thrown from the machine at speeds as high as 200 m.p.h. or cause the equipment to jam or malfunction.

•Keep your hands, face, and feet away from any moving parts.
•If the trimmer should become entangled, stop the engine immediately.
•Do not overreach. Always be properly balanced.
•Wear a full face shield, hearing protection, long pants, and heavy work boots.

Small Engine Tool Precautions

Always check the oil level before starting the engine. Add oil if necessary. Always use the type of oil that is recommended in the operator’s manual. If the engine requires a mixture of oil and gasoline, be sure to use the proper ratio. Refer to the operator’s manual for the correct mixture. Never start the engine in an enclosed space. Always start it in a well-ventilated area. Carbon monoxide or fumes can be dangerous in an enclosed space. Never touch the engine muffler while it is hot. Never perform any kind of adjustment while the engine is running.

•Always wear personal protection clothing such as safety goggles with shields, earmuffs or earplugs, leather or cotton gloves, long pants, and rubber-soled work boots. 

•Do not wear tennis shoes, sandals or open toed shoes.

•Remove any loose debris (trash, tree limbs, rocks, etc) before you start.
•Make sure the area where you will be working in is clear of all other workers or bystanders.
•Never operate a machine while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or medication.
•Never remove any safety guards or shields. 

Never fill the gasoline tank if the engine is hot. Allow it to cool down for several minutes before refueling. Clean up any spilled gasoline before starting the engine. Do not smoke while filling the gas tank or operating the machine. Store gasoline in an approved, properly labeled container. Use only gasoline approved for the engine.

Powder-Actuated Tools


Allow only trained, competent and authorized persons who are familiar with the regulations governing the use of the tool to operate powder-actuated tools (also known as explosive actuated fastening tools ). The tool shall be tested each day before loading to see that safety devices are in proper working condition. The method of testing shall be in accordance with the manufacturer's recommended procedure. Any tool found not in proper working order, or that develops a defect during use, shall be immediately removed from service and not used until properly repaired. All tools shall be used with the correct shield, guard, or attachment recommended by the manufacturer.
  •  User must be trained and licensed to operate
  • Test tool each day before loading
  • Wear suitable ear, eye, and face protection
  • Select a powder level that will do the work without excessive force

Pneumatic Tools

  • Powered by compressed air 
  • Includes nailers, staplers, chippers, drills & sanders
  • Main hazard - getting hit by a  tool attachment or by a fastener the worker is using with the tool
  • Take the same precautions with an air hose that you take with electric cords

Nail Gun -
Cut-Away View

Pneumatic tools are powered by compressed air. Common types of these air-powered hand tools that are used in industry include buffers, nailing and stapling guns, grinders, drills, jack hammers, chipping hammers, riveting guns, sanders and wrenches. Review the manufacturer's instruction before using a tool. Wear safety glasses or a face shield and, where necessary, safety shoes or boots and hearing protection. Post warning signs where pneumatic tools are used. Set up screens or shields in areas where nearby workers may be exposed to flying fragments, chips, dust, and excessive noise.

1926.302(b)(1) and (2)
Secure pneumatic power tools to the hose by some positive means to prevent the tool from becoming accidentally disconnected.
Safety clips or retainers shall be securely installed and maintained on pneumatic impact tools to prevent attachments from being accidentally expelled. 

Construction Tool Precautions

Wrenches, hammers, pliers. Pruning saws and tools. Crowbars, screwdrivers. Hand hooks, files, and scrapers. Each of these tools might be in your toolbox, and each one needs to be used safely, for the right job. Read the operator's manual before using the tool and operate the tool according to the manufacturer's instructions. Use only tested and approved tools. If a tool is defective, remove it from service, and tag it clearly "Out of
service for repair". Ensure that you have been properly trained to use the tool safely.

The right tools should be utilized for the right job.
Keep tools in good working order.
Any tools with frayed cords or without a grounding plug shall be taken out of service.
Do not use tools that you do not know how to operate.

Ensure that the power tool has the correct guard, shield or other attachment that the manufacturer recommends. Do not leave a running tool unattended. Do not leave it until it has been turned off, has stopped running completely, and has been unplugged. Disconnect the power supply before making adjustments or changing accessories.
Never remove equipment guards without proper authorization.
Be sure the power tool is off and has stopped rotating before putting it down.
Disconnect tool from power source to change drill bits, blades, etc.
Do not use compressed air for cleaning unless the pressure is reduced to less than 30 psi.

Defective Power Tool. Do Not Use!

Pull This From Service.

General Tool Safety Rules

Maintain regularly
Use the right tool for the job
Inspect before use
Operate according to the manufacturer’s instructions
Use the proper personal protective equipment

Use the guards

Select the right tool for the job. Substitutes increase the chance of having an accident. Inspect tools for defects before use. Replace or repair defective tools. Replace cracked, splintered, or broken handles on files, hammers, screwdrivers, or sledges. Maintain tools carefully. Keep them clean and dry, and store them properly after each use. Inspect cords for defects: check the power cord for cracking, fraying, and other signs of wear or faults in the cord insulation. Check for damaged switches and ones with faulty trigger locks. Inspect the plug for cracks and for missing, loose or faulty prongs. Wear safety glasses or goggles and well-fitting gloves appropriate for the hazards to which you may be exposed when doing various tasks.

Unsafe Tool Use can be Deadly!!!

Access to Water | Heat Illness Prevention

  • Potable drinking water must be made available at no cost to the employee. 
  • Maintain, at all times, sufficient quantities of pure and cool potable drinking water (i.e. enough to provide at least one quart per employee per hour for the entire shift).
  • Water must be fit to drink. Water containers CAN NOT be refilled from non-potable water sources (e.g. irrigation wells, sprinkler or firefighting systems). 

  • Care must be taken to prevent contamination of the drinking water supplied to the workers.
  • Implement and maintain effective replenishment procedures when beginning the shift with smaller quantities.
  • Locate the water containers as close as practicable given the working conditions and layout of the worksite. 
  • Keep it readily accessible, move it with the workers! 
  • Encourage the frequent drinking of water.
Remind workers not to wait until they are thirsty!

Chain Saws

The chain saw is one of the most efficient, productive, and dangerous portable power tools used in any industry.  If you learn to operate it properly and maintain the saw in good working condition, you will avoid injury as well as be more productive.

•Chain saws are a great tool for landscapers and arborists.
•Their powerful motors cut through heavy trunks, branches, and brush quickly and easily.
•However, that power also brings danger.
•Safe practices are critical in using chain saws.

Chain Saw Injury Locations
Notice how most injuries occur on the lower left leg and the left arm. 

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