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Crushed when trunk split on flipline

Discussion in 'Arboricultural Injuries and Fatalities' started by dbooksta, Jun 13, 2017.

  1. dbooksta

    dbooksta ArboristSite Lurker

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    I've heard a few ideas on how to avoid this since it happened, but I think more awareness and standard practices are warranted:

    I was dropping a cherry tree a few years ago. It had a large lateral branch pulling it the opposite direction from where I wanted it to go, so I gaffed up with a steel-core flipline to drop the branch. Evidently my notch cut was not deep enough, because as I began making the relief cut the branch split all the way back to the trunk and pulled part of the trunk away too. The only thing that stopped that mass of wood from peeling away was my flipline, which pulled me by my harness and crushed me against the other side of the trunk. My body was pinned and it took all my strength just to breathe. My buddy on the ground asked if I was OK and I could barely get out a distressed "No!" But there was really nothing that could be done from the ground.

    Fortunately, my saw was still running and my arms were still free. I was pressed so tightly against the trunk I couldn't see around it, but I knew I had to break that opposing branch before I blacked out, so I squeezed the throttle and just tried to keep the saw running against the top of the branch. Finally it broke and dropped, which relieved the weight on the flipline.

    So far the only practices I have heard that could have mitigated this are:
    1. Before cutting, loop the flipline once around the trunk.
    2. Reconnect the flipline above the crotch when cutting.
     
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  2. Ted Jenkins

    Ted Jenkins Firewood by TJ

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    Early in my climbing days the exact same thing happened. In my case the ground people just stood around while trying to breathe. In my case was able to reach around the tree far enough to finish dropping the limb thus relieving the tension on the rest of the tree. There are some things that can be done to prevent this from happening. Banding the tree is always an option, but it is very time consuming and is very unrealistic every time you suspect a problem. Setting the flipline above the crotch and make a under cut to relieve some of the pressure before dropping or chunking. The other option is not to climb or be aware of the likely hazards and carefully plan all steps. My best protection has always been to avoid being in a hurry. Thanks
     
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  3. ropensaddle

    ropensaddle Feel Lucky

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    One way to prevent this and yes I experienced it in the 80s when i was a bit green. I if I think I'm in any splitting scenario I terminate my lanyard to the middle dees because it cannot crush you if both ends terminate there! Having said that; It still could very well bust the lanyard or dees but I have had a split a few times since that were a heck of a lot more comfortable. In the middle dees it can only pull up to them and when I see it happening I have been able to cut it on off. I mainly use it topping ! On large limbs I will tie in above normally. Wrapping can still pull you tight to a spar or limb so I'm a middle d man!:rolleyes:
     
  4. ropensaddle

    ropensaddle Feel Lucky

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    Note both middles must be captured or its pointless! Same applies to one side d if it still allows good positioning
     
  5. derwoodii

    derwoodii Tree Freak

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    i was blessed noob to see horrible trunk tear trick happen to some one else,,, sadly he was not so lucky and pretty messed up crushed ribs busted legs knees the sobering lesson to check flipline position open the face cut size and etch the above line bark deep stayed with me and now at my sunset days of climbing i been lucky to avoid a tear out squash... i had a few try to grab me but nothing big enuff to harm.
    Have looked a ways to lessen likelihood but none are up tree practical, still I always still tell groundies if event arise call 000 your 911 ask for Fire EMT they have fast response and height access training so if victim still alive & not cut in 2 bits they can get him down fast.
     
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  6. dbooksta

    dbooksta ArboristSite Lurker

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    This (or terminating both lanyard ends on the same side D) would avoid the problem and should be taught as standard practice. This is definitely going in my rulebook!
     
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  7. ropensaddle

    ropensaddle Feel Lucky

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    Yes I noted that underneath if side d still allows good positioning ! It is definitely the way I have made a practice in splitting woods scenario. I'm not sure I invented the idea but I started using it in the 80s. I do know no one told me I figured it out after my scare! Also back then we had the flat fuzzy straps with snaps on both ends made it real easy to switch d setup!
     
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  8. ropensaddle

    ropensaddle Feel Lucky

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    Note: to be even safer if u terminate to middle move your main tip to one side if it split then and busted the d or lanyard you would have backup or if real sketchy just ratchet strap spar and use middle d. I have had a few times the middle was tested on ash and one red oak I smiled after knowing it saved me much pain and possibly my life! All times I was a bit worried my lanyard could bust but it didn't partly because I sawed the piece on off fairly fast and partly because the lanyard was stong enough to take it. Once I was not able to cut fast without the chance of cutting the lanyard but the strap held fine and a few stroke with my handsaw and the piece was on its way!
     
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  9. DR. P. Proteus

    DR. P. Proteus Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Looping the lanyard ain't gonna do anything for you in this situation but Ropes said how and there are a bunch of ways to do that. You can look for videos on YouTube and stuff on how to work down a spar, they should depict methods better than can be explained by just words.
     
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  10. scheffa

    scheffa ArboristSite Operative

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    One thing I always do is to make wing cuts on anything that I think may want to tear and try squash me, not certain that it works but I haven't had a tear on pieces that I have cut this way
     
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  11. ropensaddle

    ropensaddle Feel Lucky

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    Right but tears as bad as they are have nothing on splits!
     
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  12. beastmaster

    beastmaster Addicted to ArboristSite

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    I know a guy who got really messed up on a big tare. It almost killed him. Im carefull of my tie in if the possibility of a big tare is there. Don't tie in with your lanyard under a big branch your cutting. Cutting the branch a little futher out helps. A good undercut helps.
    Cutting something big enough to hurt you you should have two tie ins anyway.
    Splits can kill you. There can be Tremendous pressure. I'll sometimes strap a tree if it shows signs it could split.
    I almost always choke my climbing line around a spare as i chunk them down becides my lanyard. As a matter of habit.
     
  13. ropensaddle

    ropensaddle Feel Lucky

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    I had been using a choke with gri gri on spar work its terminated to middle pretty much the same as a lanyard both ends terminating there! I think if I'm not mistaken a gri gri is how you did spars too !?
     
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  14. beastmaster

    beastmaster Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Yes i use a gri gri to on spars too.
     
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  15. JeffGu

    JeffGu Antagonist/Heckler

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    A breakaway lanyard will also prevent this, but only if you're tied in with a climb line, too. I buy two or three packages of ordinary garden hose washers (all the same) and about a foot off the ground on spurs, I put a 5/16" quick link through a couple of them, hooked to side D, another quick link, then clip lanyard to that quick link. Carefully lean back and figure out how many more you need to hold you in place securely. Try it with a little bouncing backward motion to make sure it won't break just from moving around, using saw, etc... you'll want to have a second lanyard adjusted with a little slack while you do this, so if the washers break you don't end up flat on your back and bonk yer noggin' on something. Once you think you've got the number right for your weight and angle you're comfortable working at, add one more washer for good measure. You can leave this hooked to your D ring, and clip the lanyard into the D on good wood, and clip it to the breakaway when you're on sketchy wood. Remember, only do this after you're tied in with the climb line! If you're going to move up or down, clip back into the D before you do that.

    If you get in that "Circle of Death" situation, the forces of the big wood falling away will break the washers before it can crush you.

    I've seen a lot of similar tricks online, before, as well. This is just one I figured out after having one of those close calls you guys mention. I was lucky, the piece wasn't very big and I was able to just break it loose with my hands, but I'm telling ya' I may have had to change my britches when I got back down. That's some scary s**t when you realize what would have happened if it had been a really big piece.
     
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  16. murphy4trees

    murphy4trees Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Keep the lanyard above the limb is always a good idea... and cutting technique is crucial for safety and efficiency.. All these suggestions are like building a hospita at the bottom of a clif, rather than a fence at the top..
    Learn how to make good cuts and you;ll never have tears or splits
     

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