Fall for Safety: Tips for Autumn Yard Maintenance

Fall for Safety: Tips for Autumn Yard Maintenance

Who doesn’t love to watch the leaves on trees slowly turn from green to gold, orange, and red – It’s so beautiful! However, if you’re a home or business owner, your thoughts may have turned to cleaning up those very leaves once they fall—And all the other essential outdoor cleanup tasks that need to get done before the weather gets too cold and the snow begins.

You may not realize it, but many typical fall cleanup tasks can lead to injury if not done with the correct safety measures in place. We want to challenge everyone to fall for safety this year and keep safety in mind when performing their autumn yard maintenance.

Leaf Removal

Removing debris like fallen leaves is a task many people expect to be on their list once fall comes around. Raking leaves, in particular, is a task many of us probably perform without giving a second thought, or worrying about safety. But, if you come in from raking with a sore and achy body—Give these tips a try before simply chalking it up to the aging process.

Safety Tips for Raking

  • Avoid twisting your body while raking—Turn with your feet and above motions like throwing over your shoulder. These movements can overly strain your back muscles.
  • Use your knees when lifting and take a break if you start feeling any back pain. Never push your limits!
  • Try to vary movements as much as possible to avoid overuse of one muscle group
  • Wear gloves and long sleeves to protect your hands from blisters and skin from thorns or other debris.
  • Wear shoes with strong traction—Wet leaves can be slippery!
  • Stay hydrated and don’t overdo it—Whether you realize it or not, raking leaves is a workout. You may need to take breaks or slow your pace depending on your personal health and fitness—And that’s okay!

Leaf Blowing Safety

Remember, leaf blowers blow far more than just leaves. If you’ve used a leaf blower before, you’ve probably noticed how much dirt and debris gets kicked up along with the leaves you’re actually trying to move. If that dirt finds it’s way into your eyes, it’s going to be uncomfortable at best—But cause an eye injury at worst. Because of this, safety glasses or goggles should be worn at all times when operating a leaf blower.

Some other things to keep in mind when you operate a leaf blower are:

  • Inspect the blower before use to make sure controls, parts and safety devices are not damaged and are working properly.
  • Don’t point an operating blower in the direction of people or pets.
  • Make sure bystanders, including other operators, are at a safe distance. Turn the leaf blower off if you’re approached.
  • Do not use a leaf blower indoors (yep, we couldn’t believe it either!) it happens or in a poorly ventilated area.
  • Never modify a leaf blower in any way not authorized by the manufacturer.

Gutter Cleaning

Clearing your gutters is one of those “I gotta do it” tasks, especially since leaves have a tendency to clog it up. So, since it’s time to clean out the gutters—Let’s make sure you do it safely!

  • Wear gloves to protect your hands—Gutters can be full of dirty, rotting leaf debris that often contain bird or squirrel droppings that are ridden with bacteria. They can also prevent painful cuts from sharp debris in the gutter or an old metal gutter that my have developed sharp edges.
  • Protect your eyes by wearing safety glasses or goggles—You never quite know what may fly out of a gutter.
  • If you have to get on the roof to access part of the gutter wear non-slip shoes and ensure the roof is completely dry. Fall protection equipment should be used if your building’s roof is near or above 10ft off the ground—Check with your jurisdiction for requirements when working at heights.
  • Be mindful of power lines around you, especially if electrical wires connect to your building near your gutters.
  • Practice ladder & fall protection safety!

Ladder Safety Quick Tips

Check out this article for more in-depth safety tips.

  • Try to have someone with you while using a ladder—If this isn’t possible, always at least let someone know you will be working on a ladder and have them expect to hear from you once you’ve safely completed your task.
  • Take a moment to inspect both the ladder and the area where you’re using it—Make sure your ladder is in good working condition and doesn’t need any repairs.
  • Use a safe and sturdy ladder—We recommend one with a small shelf strong enough to hold a five-gallon bucket to collect gutter debris. If you do use a bucket, ensure it’s secured with a lanyard.
  • Maintain three-point contact by keeping two hands and one-foot, or two-feet and one hand on a ladder always.
ladder touch points how to climb a ladder
3-Point contact on a ladder.
  • Use the appropriate safety devices when needed (e.g., safety belt, fall restraint, etc.)
  • Do not “shift” or “walk” a stepladder when standing on it
  • Do not reach from the centre of a ladder (always climb down and move the ladder if you cannot reach).

Trimming Branches

As leaves fall from the trees, branches that may need trimming present themselves from hiding. Taking advantage of this time can be the best way to keep up with tree pruning along your property. If you’re looking for an easy how-to for pruning trees, check out this video!

Small, cracked or dying branches may be able to be removed by simply breaking them away, but larger branches will require tools like chainsaws for removal. NEVER operate a chainsaw without the proper training—Check out some more in-depth chainsaw safety tips here.

It’s always smart to use fall protection equipment when working at heights, so check in your jurisdiction for requirements in your area—However, it’s often required when working at heights 10-ft or higher.

Set-up

  • Make sure you are properly trained on how to use any equipment being used. Some jurisdictions may have regulations about the type of training required for tree cutting and trimming—It’s always a good idea to get trained whether it’s necessary or not. (Training rarely hurts, but injuries do).
  • Before trimming a tree, inspect the area to identify possible hazards (e.g. power lines, broken or cracked limbs). Don’t use conductive tools near power-lines (e.g. certain ladders, pole trimmers).
  • Mark off your work area and prevent bystander access.
  • Inspect your fall protection equipment, lines and ladder before each use.
  • If climbing the tree, inspect the tree and its limbs for cracks and weakness before the climb.

Operation

  • Wear the right PPE for the job, like:
    • Leather gloves to protect your hands.
    • Hard hat to protect your head from any branches that may fall above you.
    • Safety glasses or goggles to protect your eyes from dust.
    • Ear protection to muffle loud noises coming from equipment.
    • Non-slip shoes
    • Pants or chaps with sewn-in ballistic nylon pads, preferably ones that extend to the beltline rather than ones that stop at the upper thigh as they provide extra protection.
    • Fall Protection – If working at a height (necessary if above 10ft), fall protection equipment like body belts, harnesses and lanyards should be used. Need fall protective equipment? We’ve got you covered!
  • Break small dead branches off by hand as you climb – Remove larger branches with the proper tools.
  • Be sure that you can see the cut you’re making, so you d not cut hand lines, safety ropes, etc. unintentionally.
  • Work with a partner – It’s always a good idea to work with another person who stays on the ground while you’re climbing. In the event of an emergency, both you and your partner should have training in CPR and first aid.

LOOKING TO BRING YOUR WORKPLACE SAFETY TO THE NEXT LEVEL? CALL US—HERCULES SLR OFFERS AN EXTENSIVE SUITE OF HIGH-QUALITY SAFETY TRAINING AND CERTIFICATION COURSES.

10 Safety Tips Every Chainsaw User Should Know

10 Safety Tips Every Chainsaw User Should Know

Chainsaws are very commonly used and effective tools. When it comes to cutting through though materials in a hurry, nothing beats the power of a chainsaw. Chainsaws are used in many industries, and in ones like forestry, they are likely used daily by workers. Even outside the workplace, chainsaws are an easily accessible tool for the average person trying to prepare firewood for their home.

However, with great power comes great responsibility. Chainsaws are not a tool you should just bring home, unbox and start using without any experience. Even for the pros, don’t allow yourself to become overly comfortable with chainsaws – they are a tool that if used incorrectly, could result in serious injury.

The best way to ensure you are using a chainsaw correctly and safely is to take a chainsaw safety course. This is just one of many courses offered at the Hercules Training Academy! Learn more about the course by clicking here.

In this blog, we’ll go over some general safety tips that could prevent injuries when operating a chainsaw. Consider this the ‘sprinkles on top’ of an already established trained knowledge on the tool, so remember, Nobody wants a big bowl of just sprinkles—Get trained!

General Chainsaw Safety 

  1. Read the manufacturer owner’s manual carefully. Every chainsaw is different so don’t assume you can skip this step if you’ve used a chainsaw before.
  2. Review health and safety legislation on chainsaw operation in your area. Some jurisdictions have certain requirements when operating a chainsaw, including different types of PPE like cut-resistant footwear or leg guards.
  3. Inspect your chainsaw before starting. Ensure that all safety features are working and the chain is tight on the guide bar.
  4. Understand your limits. If you’re an at-home chainsaw user, don’t let your ego get in that way of calling a professional for a job that seems out of your depth. And, if you are a professional, don’t be afraid to request extra assistance for large jobs, and don’t allow yourself to be pressured to speed through a job to meet a too-tight deadline.
  5. Always wear personal protective equipment (PPE). Always wear the following PPE:
    • Eye Protection – Safety glasses with side shields, safety goggles, and face shields approved by CAN/CSA Standard z94.3-15: Eye and Face Protectors.
    • Gloves and Mitts – Leather gloves with ballistic nylon reinforcement on the back offer the best grip on the saw and absorbs some vibration which provides protection to the hands. Leather gloves also prevent cuts when sharpening the saw.
    • Foot Protection – Heavy, well-fitted, safety work boots approved by CAN/CSA Standard z195-14 (R2019): Protective Footwear. In addition to the regular required safety boots, chain saw operators should consider wearing boots made from cut-resistant materials that offer protection from contact with running chain saws (this is required in some jurisdictions).
    • Head Protection – A hard hat in a highly visible color, approved by CSA Standard Z94.1-15: Industrial Protective Headwear. 
    • Leg Protection – Pants or chaps with sewn-in ballistic nylon pads, preferably ones that extend to the beltline rather than ones that stop at the upper thigh as they provide extra protection. All clothing worn while operating a chainsaw should be well-fitted, without cuffs, and made of close-woven fabrics.
    • Fall Protection – If working at a height (necessary if above 10ft), fall protection equipment like body belts, harnesses and lanyards should be used. Need fall protective equipment? We’ve got you covered!
  6. Do not cut alone. Always have someone nearby if something goes wrong. If you have a team working spread out on a project, ensure everyone knows where everyone else is and who’s closest to them if they need to reach out for help.
  7. Be aware of your surroundings. Only operate a chainsaw outside or in a well-ventilated area. Be aware of weather conditions, terrain, wildlife, buildings, power lines, vehicles, and other people.
  8. Only operate saws when you are well-rested. Fatigue causes carelessness—If using a chainsaw on the job, be extra cautious before breaks and at the end of your shift.
  9. Don’t use a chainsaw on a ladder or climb a tree with your chainsaw if not professionally trained to do so. Consider buying a pole saw if you’re trying to complete jobs like trimming high-up branches.
  10. Ask questions, be safe. If you have any doubts about doing the job safely, seek out the proper protocol before continuing. Varying safety procedures may be necessary or required depending on the job at hand (e.g. working at a height, or presence of trip, slip, snag or fall hazards). You should also have a first aid kit nearby at all times when operating a chainsaw.

Just as a bit of a bonus, we broke down some do’s and don’ts when cutting with a chainsaw and tips to fuel up! Hopefully these coupled with our off the chain training course will have you equipped with all the knowledge you need to get the job done well, and most importantly, safe.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Cutting With a Chainsaw

DO

  • Plan each job before you start. If you’re unsure what to do next, turn off your chainsaw and come up with a plan before continuing.
  • Hold and carry the chainsaw by its front handle, with the muffler away from your body and the guard bar pointing behind you.
  • Use the correct saw—Proper weight, power and bar length should match the job at hand.
  • Operate the chain saw in a firm two-handed grip with fingers and thumb surrounding the handles. Always keep both feet firmly positioned.
  • Maintain full power throughout the entire cut.
  • Ensure the chain does not move when the chain saw is idling.
  • Keep your saw clean- free of sawdust, dirt, and oil.

DON’T

  • Start a chainsaw when it is resting against any part of your body.
  • Stand directly behind the saw.
  • Leave a saw running unattended.
  • Carry a chainsaw while it’s running.
  • Make contact with the muffler—This may cause serious skin burns.
  • Cut with the nose or tip of your chainsaw – this will cause kickback and can lead to serious injury.

Tips for Fueling a Chainsaw

  • Follow the manufacturer’s directions for what oil/gas mixture should be used for your specific model.
  • Only use safety containers for storing and dispensing fuel.
  • Do not refuel a running or hot saw – always allow it to cool down before refueling.
  • Ensure you are at least 3 meters (10 ft) from sources of ignition before dispensing fuel. Do not smoke or be around smokers while refueling. 
  • Use a funnel or spout for pouring and wipe away any spills.
  • Mix fuel in a well-ventilated area and keep a well-maintained fire extinguisher nearby.

Remember, the best way to ensure you are using a chainsaw correctly and safely is to take a chainsaw safety course. Through our Hercules Training Academy, we offer an extensive suite of high-quality safety training and certification courses. Whether you’re looking for initial or refresher training, we provide practical, hands-on courses designed to exceed the minimum safety requirements. Learn more about the Chainsaw Safety course by clicking here.


LOOKING TO BRING YOUR WORKPLACE SAFETY TO THE NEXT LEVEL? CALL US—HERCULES SLR OFFERS AN EXTENSIVE SUITE OF HIGH-QUALITY SAFETY TRAINING AND CERTIFICATION COURSES.