Safe Tree Felling 

Sponsored by: ECHO
By: Tim Nephew
May 2018

 Wide Base Cut

Maybe there are a couple of trees on your property that you have been wanting to cut down for some time. They might be old, diseased, misshapen or just too close together, but you know they need to come down. You hinted strongly that you could use a good chain saw and you were rewarded with a nice one on your last birthday. You’ve never used a chainsaw before – let alone cut down a tree – but really, how hard can it be? Mix the gas and oil, start up the saw and start cutting them down!

If you have little or no experience in felling a tree, you should be aware that you will be putting yourself at risk of serious injury or even death if you tackle the job yourself. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Loggers who fell trees for a living have the highest rate of injury and death of workers in the country. That statistic is quite impressive because they rank at the top in injury and death above, Fishers, Pilots, Roofers, Steel Workers, Truck Drivers and even Farmers and Ranchers. Remember, these are professionals that do this for a living – no weekend warriors or the occasional tree cutter in this group.

The purpose of citing the statistics pointing out the dangers of felling trees is not to dissuade you from tackling the job yourself. On the contrary, cutting down your own trees can be done safely but it’s important to observe good practices to avoid accidents and injury. Here are some basic guidelines to follow when felling trees.

Devise a Plan for the Tree 

The first task involved when deciding to fell a tree is to develop an overall plan for how to handle the tree from felling to removal. This is the time where you will scrutinize all the things that could go wrong and how to avoid them when you cut down the tree. Where is the tree located and what potential hazards are around the tree? Things like buildings, power lines, fences and other trees in the path of the falling tree, all have to be taken into consideration. Are there large dead branches that are broken but still hanging up in the tree that could fall on you when you cut it down? If at any point you feel that the felling of the tree may be out of your comfort zone or capabilities, call a professional and either get their opinion or have them do the job for you. 

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