Trimming or removing trees should be done with caution, particularly near power lines, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) says.
In many cases, such work is probably best left to the professionals. For instance, any tree work within 10 feet of a power line must only be performed by experienced and trained line-clearance tree trimmers. At least two people must perform the work and must be within normal voice communication range, the agency explained in a news release.
Always assume all power lines are energized. Contact the utility companies to find out if they need to de-energize and ground or shield power lines before tree work begins, OSHA said.
Power lines aren’t the only hazard facing tree workers, OSHA noted. The agency provided these additional safety tips:
- Tree work should not be done in dangerous weather conditions.
- Anyone using chain saws and other equipment should be trained. The equipment should also be properly maintained.
- Protective equipment such as gloves, safety glasses, hard hats and hearing protection should be worn.
- Trees’ forward lean, back lean, and/or side lean issues should be identified to determine the direction they will fall.
- A retreat path to a safe location should be identified along with the proper amount of hinge wood to safely guide the tree’s fall.
- Tree limbs should be examined for strength and stability before workers climb on them.
- Tree trimmers working in high branches must use appropriate fall protection.
- Workers shouldn’t climb trees with tools in their hands.
- Precautions must be taken when trimming broken trees under pressure. The direction of the pressure must be determined. Then small cuts can be made to release it.
- Extreme caution must also be taken when trimming trees that have not fallen completely to the ground or are lodged against another tree.
- Workers should remain alert and never turn their backs on a falling tree.
The International Society of Arboriculture provides more information on tree work safety.