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PAY ATTENTION OUT THERE

Discussion in 'Arboricultural Injuries and Fatalities' started by Bobby Kirbos, Mar 12, 2018.

  1. Bobby Kirbos

    Bobby Kirbos ArboristSite Guru

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    Mods, if this is in the wrong place, please move it.


    So, this past weekend we had a "work day" at my sportsman's club. I was in charge of the 3 man crew that was taking down a small tree (some sort of walnut, about 10" diameter at the base). The tree was close to the building and the power line, so a 100 foot rope and a Chevy Suburban were involved in making sure the tree landed in the right place. I was on the saw, guy #2 was in his Suburban at the other end of the rope.

    After making a B-Line through my escape route, I looked up as the tree hit the ground (right where I wanted it). It wasn't until the tree hit the ground that I realized where guy #3 was. I assumed that he was smart enough to be NOT in a dangerous spot. Nope. The tree missed him by less than 10 feet. He was dicking with his cell phone while I was cutting; paying absolutely no attention to what was going on around him. :dumb2: He jumped out of the way AFTER he heard the crash behind him. Luckily, nothing hit him (though at this point, I wanted to). Guy #2 and I just looked at each other and shook our heads. Surprisingly, guy #3 (I would estimate) is in his early 60s. I would think he should know better...


    I know I'm preaching to the choir, but pay attention out there guys. It only takes a few seconds for things to go very badly.

    For future reference:
    Whose responsibility is it to make sure that the crew members are in safe places as things fall? The guy running the saw or the crew members themselves?
     
  2. Cycledude

    Cycledude ArboristSite Operative

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    Unfortunately Very many accidents everywhere related to cellphone use.
     
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  3. rwoods

    rwoods Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Glad no one got hurt. Speaking only for myself as a firewood hack, I believe it is the faller’s responsibility to give instruction and know where everyone is before beginning the cut. After that the responsibility of ones whereabouts pretty much shifts as the faller has to give attention to the cut. Not saying the faller shouldn’t dismiss the safety of others just that he can’t give his full attention to where someone may have wandered once the cut begins nor can he stop a tree once it begins to fall. Nor can he timely retreat if he has to locate everyone first.

    Ron
     
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  4. Tin-knocker

    Tin-knocker ArboristSite Operative

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    I agree. The few people I cut with have a good head on their shoulders and stay safe but I still make sure everyone knows when I'm falling a tree and which direction I'm planning on it going. If I was doing a "work day" then I would DEFINITELY make sure everyone knows when I'm dropping something. Sometimes things that seem obvious to someone that's used to chainsaw work won't seem so obvious to someone that is just helping on a field day. I think the guy holding the saw needs to compensate for the dummies around him.
     
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  5. Bobby Kirbos

    Bobby Kirbos ArboristSite Guru

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    Thanks for the input guys. I made the assumption that the other guy was smart enough to be in a safe place (we all know what the say about assumptions). Thankfully no one got hurt and I have learned something from this - regardless of who I'm working with, as the guy with the saw, it is my responsibility to make sure that everyone is in a safe place before I start the cut.
     
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  6. c5rulz

    c5rulz Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Granted you don't want to see anybody get hurt, but it sounds like in this case "God was attempting to throw some bleach in the gene pool". I sure hope that guy didn't have any offspring.
     
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  7. rwoods

    rwoods Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Fixed my negative grammatical error. Ron

     
  8. ValleyFirewood

    ValleyFirewood Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Many people have poor situational awareness.

    I've had people drive into our yard and about drive unto equipment as it was moving.
    Last year had a lady drive UNDER logs with a Subaru as I was carrying them with the skid steer to the firewood processor. That scared me pretty bad, the logs do fall out of the grapple once in a while.
     
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  9. rwoods

    rwoods Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Most folks tend to underestimate the height and width of a standing tree.

    This and the issues raised by other posters are some of the reasons why I prefer to cut alone though that may increase the risk to me.

    Ron
     
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  10. old CB

    old CB ArboristSite Operative

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    A couple years ago I was dropping and cutting up trees as part of a volunteer crew--several sawyers working in adjacent areas, with a handful of swampers assigned to each sawyer. I had sent a kid (10--12 yrs old?) to get my water jug from my pickup, a 5-minute jog uphill.

    I was felling a tree, medium-size, not big not small--it had just committed to the fall--when that kid reappeared. He's walking down the trail toward the lay of the falling tree. Me and several other folks all yelling "STOP, GO BACK," and that kid oblivious. The tree moving above him got his attention at the last moment, and he backed up just in time. Gave me a scare.

    It's always on the faller, the responsibility rests with no one else.
     
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  11. Chainmale

    Chainmale ArboristSite Lurker

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    I agree
     
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  12. sixonetonoffun

    sixonetonoffun Straight Not Narrow!

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    Years ago I shared a house with some friends. Of course we burned wood for heat to save a few bucks.

    We would get a crew of volunteers and hit the woods and cut split and load. Got our supply processed fast.

    I was splitting with a buddy who had a splitter. He was running the splitter and I was handling feeding and loading.

    I threw a large gnarly chunk on the splitter. Held it till the ram pushed it to the wedge and stepped back. He rested his gloved hand on the top of the chunk and was running it through "Crack!".

    The chunk opened up and slammed shut taking the tips off 3 of his fingers. He went into shock pretty fast.

    His g/f and I got him into my pickup (over loaded with splits) and I drove them out to the road. Which itself was an adventure. We had built a log bridge over a ditch and another through the edge of a bog.

    We made it out as quick as I dared. Pulled up to her car shoved him in and sent his glove with his digits along. But they were to smashed for the doc to do anything with em.

    He to this day has them in a mason jar of vodka.

    This was the end of his splitting wood.

    Ya just can't be to careful doing this stuff. One bad decisions all it takes for a great day to go really bad.
     
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  13. rarefish383

    rarefish383 Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Back in the 70's my parents and Aunt and Uncle went on a cruise. We had a big job that was planned to take 2-3 weeks. My Uncle had 2 crews that didn't have leaders, and he didn't trust them on their own, so we took them, and figured we'd get the big job done in a week. I was in charge and had just sent a climber to a big take down in a wooded area. He had his gear heading for the tree. So, I'm kind of putzing along looking at my check list and about 2 feet in front of me this 10-12 inch dead stub hits the ground. I looked up and his eyes are popping out of his head. He says, "that was good judgement, another step and it would have hit you." I asked what the heck he was doing, he was supposed to be getting up in the tree. He said he saw the little dead one and decided while he was there he would knock it down. We weren't supposed to be doing any little work. We were getting all the big dead trees down so the home owner would be a little safer working in the woods. Yeah, can't relax for a minute. Can't take for granted people you tell to do something will do it as instructed. I'm 62 now and that climber is 64. I still use him for side work, but over the years, I've learned that no matter what you tell him, you have to keep an eye on him. He'll be all set up to start climbing and go start something else that we're not getting paid to do. Sometimes it makes sense like clearing something out of a lowering zone to make it easier on the rope men. Once he's up the tree he's 100% predictable and 100% safe. You just have to follow him to the tree and make sure if he see's something he feels needs addressing, he lets you know before addressing it.
     
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  14. Jackbnimble

    Jackbnimble Addicted to ArboristSite

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    I try to pay attention to everything going on which is why I never work with anyone within 75 miles of me. I'm not real good at paying attention, even to myself. Most of the time I've got about 300 projects going at the same time. WW3 has me heavily insured.
     
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  15. Snorider

    Snorider ArboristSite Member

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    I’m not in the tree takin down business but I am an occupational health and safety professional that does consulting work in most industries, though I focus on construction. Technically it would be the sawyers (if that is the right term...guy on saw) responsibility but in many cases a spotter might be more appropriate. If the work was going on in a controlled environment...or on one of my job sites the fall zone would be a closed access zone created by demarcating the area with danger tape. In a nutshell this boils down to the crew supervisor’s responsibility or anyone that is holding a leadership or supervisory role (like a crew lead) and then finally the guy on the saw. We would like to think that people should be more responsible for their own safety but the employer of the workers who are creating the hazard and the employer of the workers who are exposed to the hazard owe due diligence. When at work...you usually are not expected to know anything or be responsible for anything (even yourself) unless you have been specifically trained. So they guy in the fall zone would have to have been specifically trained on the hazard and the fall zone to be expected to stay out unless it’s demarcated.
     
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  16. Porosonik

    Porosonik New Member

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    Situational awareness, or the lack thereof, can rear up and get you with surprising speed and efficiency. This is why the old timers taught us to look after everybody else and trust no one if it could be possibly avoided. I can give three examples of the fruits of not paying enough attention.
    During my first week on the job as a prospective choker setter (circa about 1973), we were cleaning up some sparse timber that had been left when the ground was first logged 15 years before... mostly leaners and snags that the Company didn't want to mess with at the time even though the ground wasn't too steep. We were getting ready to stop for lunch, and the Cat skinner decided to do a favor for the fellers and clean the poision oak out from around a large redwood stub that was next up- probably 8-10 feet on the butt and maybe 150 feet tall. One of the fallers (we had 3- two brothers in their 20's and their dad), had just felled a large Doug fir down the hill and was in the process of bucking it.
    As we sat down to have lunch, the stub decided to fall over. It was a hot day and the wind wasn't blowing, but it just decided now was the time. Redwoods have a very shallow root system (rarely deeper than 6'), and no central tap root.... and I guess having the D8 rooting around it was enough to loosten it enough to let it go. The snag came down parallel with and just to the right of dead center on the fir, and the faller bucking it didn't hear it coming- fat chance since he was running a McCulloch with a Mac 101 Kart engine in it, and pitifully little in the way of a muffler. The crew lost all interest in lunch at that point, including the guy's dad who watched the whole thing unfold from about 50 yards away. We pushed the logs apart with the Cat and discovered the guy had gotten unbelievably lucky- if you can call a fractured skull and a shoulder blade broken in multiple places lucky.
    Apparently, this limbless stub was moving so fast that the shock wave in front of it more or less blew him down into the space between the two trees. It also wasn't rotten, which would have splattered him along with it. All in all, he was back in the woods in a week- sitting on a stump to satisfy the State Comp folks, and in two weeks he was put to work as a Cat skinner (which he hated with a passion- but that's another story). Lesson to be learned: even though certain things aren't supposed to happen, they sometimes do and the effects can be just as bad. Situational awareness is your friend. By the way- the redwood broke where it hit him on the top of the head... and it was 78" at the break.

    About a year later (and a fully qualified chocker setter by then... at least "I" thought so), we were waiting for the feller to drop a nice redwood. The layout was in, and we'd discussed getting a few logs skidded at the top end of it while he got to work falling the tree. The logs were about 2 winch lines worth from the landing, and we had to skid them across the layout about two humps from the far end. So... there we were, skidding logs across the other end of the lay while the cutter was doing his job. The first hump in the layout was rather high, so the faller couldn't see us from where he was- but the Cat skinner and faller had worked together for decades and pretty much knew the capabilities of each other and had their timing worked out. The Cat operator was a grumpy old cuss- a great operator but not very sociable- and I could always tell when he was mad about something because he would start taking it out on the Cat. So, there I was- about 2 in the afternoon, sitting on the hydraulic tank of the D7 and hanging on to part of the canopy- about half asleep while the operator went back at the last minute to replace the hump that he'd cut out in order to skid the logs through. About that time he slammed it into second reverse at full throttle and I thought "what's the old bastard mad about now?" and sort of half opened one eye. That was about the time the trunk hit about 5 feet to the right of the right hand track. It happened so fast that all I can remember was suddenly being in the shade, and visibility dropping to inches in the thick dust cloud while firewood-sized pieces of redwood limb whizzed and tumbled in all directions past my face. We both came away unscathed but wide awake. The faller said later that he was watching the tree fall, and about halfway to the ground he saw a "big, black cloud of diesel smoke at the other end of the layout, and that probably wasn't good". Lesson learned: sometimes the feller's faster than you give him credit for.

    Example the third: The Big Company we gypo-ed for usually assigned one of the junior foresters to us to keep an eye on us. Ours was named "Joe" In his mid twenties, and just out of forester school, he would always show up wearing a freshly pressed hickory shirt, and always carrying a yellow plastic wedge in his back pocket. Everybody razzed him about this, having no saw and all, but what he lacked in experience he more than made up for in enthusiasm. One rule you could count on with the Company was that you could always tell who you were dealing with by the pickup they drove; at the top end of the food chain you had the Big Shots who drove Ford Couriers. A 3/4 ton 4x4 meant a bull buck or the equivalent. A two wheel drive F150 meant you were dealing with the bottom of the food chain. Joe drove an F150. Anyway, it was the Spring of the year and was still too wet to log, but not too wet to start getting a few trees on the ground. The ground was pretty steep, so they'd started down from the rocked truck road with a Cat and made a layout for a large redwood about 75 yards below, then wenched the Cat back out while putting in the humps, not bothering to extend the lay above the road because the top looked dead anyway. The fallers had the undercut in and were fueling their saw when Joe showed up, walking down the layout from the truck road. Joe didn't get the chance to see a big tree fall all that often, so he decided to hang around while they dropped it. They hit the lay straight up the middle... and in the process drove Joe's pickup about 18" into the truck road. The lesson to be learned: if you're Joe, don't let yourself be distracted. If you're a faller, never forget that Joe just might be dumb enough to park his pickup crossways of the layout where you can't see it.

    Porosonik.
     
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  17. TheBrushSlasher

    TheBrushSlasher I have chainsaws and chainsaw accessories.

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    When I worked in the ccc a supervisor(now friend) was giving our saw certification class and the one thing he stressed is everyone must be aware of what is going on while falling trees and that communication starts with the sawyer before any cut is made and passed on by each crewmember by saying tree falling and if it is not repeated by each crewmember the sawyer or persons who acknowledged communication must repeat. If you are out with your buddies or a volunteer crew its comes down to the sawyer communicating what is going on but it also has to be acknowledged.
     

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