If you’re a property owner, and somewhere on your property is a tree, you’re likely going to have to trim it at some point. Tree trimming is the process of removing branches and limbs from a tree without needing to cut down the tree itself or cut into the tree trunk. It’s necessary because, if a branch becomes diseased or damaged and falls, it can either cause injury to those below or damage to property.
But if you’re thinking tree trimming is an easy job that just requires a ladder and a saw, think again. Not only does it require portable power tools like chainsaws, it might be necessary to use an aerial lift to reach tall branches. The leading causes of death during a trimming job is either a fall or electrocution by power lines. Tree trimming should be left to a qualified tree service, but if you’re going to do it, read on for a few tips to make the job safer.
- The best way to stay safe is to be prepared. Wearing leather lineman’s gloves is a good way to protect your hands. During tree trimming, you can get sawdust, pine needles, and other debris in your eyes, so be sure to wear eye protection. If you’re operating a trimmer or chainsaw, definitely wear ear protection. Shoes or boots that have slip-resistant soles and heels are a wise move.
- Earlier, we mentioned that falls are a serious and sometimes fatal risk when it comes to tree trimming. Check out the tree ahead of time and plan accordingly to minimize risk. If you’re using a ladder, tie it off to a secure branch. If you’ll be up high, strongly consider wearing a safety harness, or using an aerial lift or climbing ropes. Before using ropes, always inspect them thoroughly to make sure they aren’t frayed or broken.
- You want to protect others from injury as well. Clearly mark off the work area so that passersby can avoid the area. If you’re working near or above a road, be sure to wear colorful clothing that’s easy to spot. Keep in mind the speed limit of the road and the width of the shoulder, then use signs and cones accordingly.
- Before you start climbing, carefully inspect the tree itself. If you see large cracks or other signs of weakness, don’t climb and consider using an aerial lift. While climbing, move a step at a time and put your hands and feet on separate limbs. If you see branches that are dead or weak, don’t use them for support. Instead, break or cut them off.
- When it comes to climbing, always work with a partner. One of you should be on the ground as a spotter while the other is climbing. Both of you should have training in first aid and CPR in case of an emergency.
- Stay away from power lines unless it’s absolutely necessary. If work requires that you get close, contact the utility company and make sure they de-energize the power lines first. If they can’t, make sure they cover the lines with either blankets or insulating hoses before you go up. Never take chances with power lines, since it’s a great way to get yourself killed.