Safety Tips for Hand & Power Tools

When working with hand tools, it is best to have personal protection, which includes proper long-sleeved clothing, gloves, hardhat, boots, eye protection, and noise protection equipment.

The sharpest tools are best, since dull tools cause more accidents due to worker fatigue and frustration. Saws, loppers, and other cutting tools should be handled carefully and never put into anything except the wood they are to cut. 

When people work together, they can get in each other’s way, so it is best to work separated by at least two lengths of the vegetation reach. Thus, if you are cutting out 6 foot tall manzanita, you should be working at least 12 feet apart.

Often, having one person cutting and one or more people pulling the cut brush to a pile works most productively and safely. Piles should have vegetation laid parallel for later ease of handling (or burning).

Working with power tools means having another person present and having greater communication so that all understand what the course of work is going to be. If someone tries to engage you in conversation while you are working with a chainsaw or other power tools, stop the equipment if you need to respond. Distractions can cause injury. Working safely means having fire extinguishers and first aid help close by the work site.

Cutting of larger trees (larger than 8 inch stump diameter) needs skill and know-how. These trees can weigh over half a ton and can crush cars and things of value. Someone skilled with a chainsaw and full safety gear needs to do the actual work, and often needs other ground assistance. This cutting should not be done without planning and forethought.

Certified arborists are available for this kind of work, and usually, getting bids from licensed and insured contractors will ensure the best cost for value. Be sure to specify what you want the finished site to look like before work begins.

Vegetation fuel hazards – firebrand

Fire fuels include living and dead native vegetation materials. The most dangerous fuel elements are burning firebrands or ember showers that fall like snow and can be carried by the wind for great distances downwind. Firebrands are unpredictable and can travel miles from the original source of a wildfire, thus spreading destruction in their wake.

It has become clear to firefighters that anticipating and preparing for ember showers is critical and an important role of defensible space.

With defensible space, fires can often be contained on the ground level within the 100-foot radius of the home, allowing firefighters and homeowners more time to deal with firebrands landing on or near the home.