Take a minute to think about your career in the tree industry and ask yourself how many times you’ve been in the line of fire—when an object traveled into your path creating a risk of serious injury. Did you have time to readjust? Did you get lucky and escape without injury?
We’ve been trained for decades to do a thorough pre-task brief focused on identifying and managing every risk. While this is a good practice, there’s one, major problem: vegetation management is complex and highly variable. We’re lacking the certainty that can be found in routine environments.
After reviewing an incident last week involving a decayed trunk that was unknown to the feller and reviewing two close calls with very similar circumstances, the question that comes to mind is: Are we doing all that we can to find out what kind of wood fiber, if any, is in the tree? Are the fibers punky, wet, dry, consistent, solid, etc.?
Early last spring, before I joined Lewis Tree Service, I had a close call that I believe carries some valuable lessons for our team. The private company that I was working for had a contract to remove several hundred dead ash trees from a local park. I put a notch in a 12-inch DBH, 50–60 ft tall dead ash that had just enough lean to it that I...