Power Pole Saw Operations for the Professional Tree Worker

newsThe right pole saw can be an extremely valuable tool in the hands of a properly trained, professional tree worker. A power pole saw can save a great deal of time, increase safety and productivity!

Since June is National Safety Month, now is a great time to step back and take a few moments to review how to safely operate a power pole saw. After all, the first step in reducing risk of accidents is being informed and educated on what lies ahead.

But before getting started, don’t forget that any power saw operation should go together with personal protective equipment ‘PPE’ like hand and glove. In fact, gloves aren't the only part of the PPE that go together with power pole saw operation. Be sure to also don protection for your head, eyes, hearing and feet.

First, the power pole saw operator must become familiar with the type, model and basic operation of the saw pole. Never underestimate the value of reading the owner’s manual before operating a power saw! Check the owner’s manual for required and preventative maintenance as well as proper starting, harness and shaft adjustment procedures.

  • Visually inspect the pole saw prior to operation and be sure there are no missing or loose nuts or bolts.
  • Inspect the air filter and clean as necessary.
  • Inspect the guide bar for wear, clean, repair or replace as necessary.
  • Inspect the drive sprocket for wear and replace as necessary.
  • Inspect and be sure your chain is sharp with the proper tension before using any power saw!
  • Remember to fill the bar oil reservoir when fueling the saw.

Never stand directly under the cutting system, the limb or the wood you are cutting when operating a power pole saw!

Identify and set up a safe cutting and falling zone so that falling limbs and/or wood will not strike you or anyone else during the operation. Always check for power lines and/or potentially energized conductors and maintain at least a ten foot limit of approach!

It’s also key to do a thorough job risk and operation assessment, using H.O.P.E.

Identify and address any and all potential: Hazards and Obstacles. Plan your work and be sure that you have all the Equipment you need to safely and efficiently work your plan. When removing limbs, use the 3-step cutting method:

  • Step 1: The first cut should be at least 18” from the branch collar with an undercut approximately 1/3 of the way up through the branch, being very careful not to pinch the saw
  • Step 2: At full speed, cut directly on top of the first cut, sawing from the top down until the branch drops. Remember to stand clear and expect the unexpected.
  • Step 3: Make the final cut just outside the branch collar. (Be careful not to tear the bark if you are making a pruning cut. This may require an additional cut to shorten and lighten the stub before making the final collar cut.)

Stay safe out there during National Safety Month and all year long.

This piece was provided by Ken Palmer, President of ArborMaster Training, Inc, and by Husqvarna, a TCIA Partners Advancing Commercial Tree Care (PACT) CROWN partner.

With more than 30 years of experience in the tree care industry, Ken is a well-known instructor, speaker, author, and developer of modern tools and techniques. A member of the ANSI Z133 Accredited Standards Committee and the Utility Arborist Association Safety Committee, and three-time International Tree Climbing Championship champion.

The Husqvarna Group is the world’s largest producer of outdoor power products, including chain saws, trimmers, blowers, lawn mowers and tractors. Husqvarna’s range of professional chain saws and clearing equipment for the tree care industry provide power, durability, and ergonomic product design in an effort to achieve the highest productivity.

PACT partners provide financial support for a variety of TCIA safety and training programs.  For more information on the PACT program, visit www.tcia.org, or contact Amy Tetreault at atetreault@tcia.org or 800-733-2622.

Reprinted with permission from the June 2017 issue of The Reporter, a TCIA members-only publication. Visit TCIA.org/membership for more information about member benefits and to join.