Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Rules To Live By

If you read the gun blogs you will see the Four Rules posted on many of them. The Four Rules are a great aid in preventing firearm accidents, because anyone can remember just Four Rules, and you generally won't have an accident unless you violate more than one rule. Being a stickler for details and adhering to the rules all the time will make you a safe shooter.

1. All guns are always loaded...
2. Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy...
3. Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot... and
4. Be sure of your target and what lies beyond it.

Knife safety is even easier.

1. Never cut toward yourself...
2. Always cut away from youself...
3. Never cut yourself.

And one more that can be added to both knives and guns...
If you drop it, let it fall.

One of my landowners called me today to thank me for giving him a safety lecture in his woods recently. He ordered a set of chainsaw chaps and a hardhat with a face shield and ear muffs. He called me because "A Limb As Big As My Arm" fell on his head, which was saved by his hat. That made me feel pretty good, but then in the news tonight I saw a story about a chainsaw fatality which started me thinking. There is lots of safety information about saws, but there is no concise list of essential rules for chainsaw safety like the list we have for guns.

This brief video illustrates the necessity of keeping both hands on your saw while the chain is running. This operator ALMOST got cut. This event caused a brief lecture before any more cuts were made.

I am going to start a list of rules, and am asking for comments for additions if I miss any important points. As I have been thinking about this I realized that chainsaws are complicated little buggers... I think they will have lots more rules than we need for safe shooting.

1. Always wear your safety gear when running your saw: hard hat, eye, face, hearing protection, cut resistant protection for your legs, heavy boots, gloves (depending on work conditions).

2. Safety devices on the saw must be in working order: front hand guard,chain brake, chain catcher, throttle lockout, and right hand guard.

3. Hold the saw on the ground or lock it between your knees for starting. No 'Drop Starts.' Set the chain brake before cranking.

4. The engine must idle reliably without turning the chain.

5. The chain must be sharpened properly, including properly set depth gauges.

6. The chain must be adjusted to remove slack and still run freely.

7. The operator must understand the forces on different parts of the bar as the saw runs: push, pull, kickback and attack.

8. Both hands must always be on the saw when the chain is running. The thumbs must be wrapped around the handles. Both feet should be firmly planted on the ground.

9. The operator must always know where the end of the bar is, and what it's doing.

10. Don't let the upper (kickback) corner of the bar contact anything when the chain is running unless the tip has been buried with the lower corner.

11. Let off of the throttle before pulling out of a pinch on the top part of the bar.

12. Make a plan for every tree you cut. Assess hazards, lean, escape routes, forward cuts, and back cuts. Evaluate the forward or backward lean, and the side lean of every tree you cut. Know your limits.

13. Clear your work area and your escape path of brush, vines, and other hazards that can trip you or catch your saw.

14. Escape from the bullseye when the tree tips. 90% of accidents happen within 12 feet of the stump. Go more than 15 feet, and stay out of the bullseye until things stop falling.

15. Keep spectators away more than twice the height of the tree in the direction it will fall.

16. Don't cut alone.

17. Keep your body and the swamper's out of the line of the bar in case of a kickback.

18. Set the brake when taking over two steps or when moving through tripping hazards. Keep your trigger finger off of the throttle when you are moving.

19. DO NOT operate a chainsaw from a ladder! Operating with your feet off the ground requires special training.

20. Do not cut above your shoulders.

21. Springpoles must be shaved on the inside of the apex between the ascending and descending sides. If the apex is higher than you shoulders, stand under the springpole and cut it low on the descending side. It will release upward, away from you.

Leaning and heavily loaded poles that are too small to bore cut for a hinge should be shaved on the compressed side until they fold.

22. Do not cut a tree that is holding up a lodged tree. Do not work under a lodged tree. Think about a mouse trying to steal the cheese out of a trap.

23. Instruct your swampers and helpers to NEVER approach you from behind or the sides to within the reach of your saw when you are cutting. If you pull out of a cut with the chain running, or have a severe kickback, the swamper can be killed if he is coming up behind you!

Well, that is a start. Please leave comments if you can think of more rules that should be included in this list.


Hobie said...

I was just reading in one of Mom's letters home ca. 1956 that Dad had a limb fall on his head while cruising timber. His hard hat (pressed paper) saved him from the widow maker. Until now I wondered why my parents were forever going on about widow makers, as they called them. Now I know.

David aka True Blue Sam said...

I will look at timber in the rain or snow, but I don't like to go in the woods when the wind is blowing. A widow maker 'as big as my leg' dropped next to me on a fire in Pike Co. Ky. That was memorable. When we were on a fire near Missoula, MT, a big Douglas-fir fel over and almost got the guy right behind me. The roots had been burned off, and that tree didn't make a noise until it hit the ground. A hard hat wouldn't have done much good with that one.