In the blink of an eye!

rugger01

Active Member
#1
Well here is a tale that has multiple mistakes to learn from. Thankfully I escaped with "minor" injuries. Here's the scene:

My crew and I were felling white pines into the woods and cleaning them up. I was felling and my crew was alternating between running the chipper controls and staging brush for the mini. We were in a great rhythm and looking good to finish on time. 11:30ish and 1 more "nothing" tree before lunch. 12" DBH 40' tall. The tree had back lean but nothing crazy that a pull rope won't solve. My crew was chipping up the end of the last top and I grabbed my throwline to set the rope... hit the crotch and started to pull the line up and in. I looked down and saw my dynaglide snagged in the top that was going into the feed rollers. I tried to drop the line and yell to a crew member that was by the chipper. In the blink of an eye the line was by the feed rollers and wrapped around the drum (come to find out 68'9"). As it was ripped out of my hand it took chunks out of my pinky and rope burned every single finger. Took a hospital trip and got the wounds cleaned and stitched. Thought that sucked enough until the back pain started 1 day later. I could barely walk for more than a week and it is just now starting to not go into spasm constantly.

So as I said I made plenty of mistakes you can learn from.
1. Keep all cordage away from large tangle hazards (skid steers, chippers, stump grinders etc.)
2. That "nothing" tree can and will get you if you disregard it.
3. Right before any major stoppage of work is the most dangerous time of the day.

I'm sure many of you have seen the video of the climbing line going through the chipper. It is crazy how fast it happens. I was extremely lucky in this and am greatful for that fact. If the line had gotten wrapped around a body part it would have been a much different ending. Figured you may be able to learn from my mistakes. A wise man once said "Lessons not paid for in blood are easily forgotten." Well it didn't bleed but I've learned.
Stay focused and stay safe.
Cheers
 

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treehumper

Well-Known Member
#2
Thanks for telling the tale. I've seen my crew get sloppy with rope management and have to get on them about it. Vigilance is key!
 

ROYCE

Well-Known Member
#5
The exact same thing happened to a friend of mine. Except it was wrapped around his pinky. He lost a digit in a blink of an eye.
 

Drumbo

Active Member
#7
Were you not using helmet comms? Not trying to be a dick, its just crazy how many ways the helmet comms can help prevent incidents.
You said you yelled, sometimes when chipping it is still hard to hear through the sena. Or the chip master has bumped out because no one else wants to hear the chipping.

Glad you're okay though.
 

rugger01

Active Member
#8
We were not wearing coms at the time. Nothing the guy by the chipper could have done. By the time I saw it happening it was too late. Valid point in coms being amazing and an excellent tool for prevention of accidents. Thanks for all the well wishes.
 

JontreeHI

Well-Known Member
#9
The exact same thing happened to a friend of mine. Except it was wrapped around his pinky. He lost a digit in a blink of an eye.
There is an (in)famous Tree guy out here who lest have a pinky to throw line while testing a homemade big shot trigger. Yikes. Nice guy.
 

TimBr

Well-Known Member
#11
We were not wearing coms at the time. Nothing the guy by the chipper could have done. By the time I saw it happening it was too late. Valid point in coms being amazing and an excellent tool for prevention of accidents. Thanks for all the well wishes.
It might have been tough for him to have noticed, but one thing the guy by the chipper could have done was to not feed your throwline into the chipper.

Maybe people think it would slow things down too much, but it seems to me that it is the responsibility of the chipper operator to ensure that there are no ropes tangled in the brush before he pulls the trigger. If that means doing a walk around the brush to inspect, that's what it means. Next time he might yank a climber right out of a tree.

The other thing that occurs to me, that people will hate, is a "two-man" chipper rule. Someone else there would provide a 2nd set of eyes at the back to assist in seeing what the man by the controls cannot see from that point of view.

Tim
 
#12
Throw line is a pain (pun intended) for this very reason... it doesn’t take much to cut you. I hope this doesn’t keep you grounded for long.
I think it’s extremely important that the lowest paid guy on the site is the most astute because he really has the most to look at and pay attention to. The guy at the chipper is so often the lowest skilled, most easily distracted and slowest thinking individual on the site. Not trying to be discriminatory but it’s a fact of this business. The only way to turn this around is to train, train, train get these guys up to speed.
The other part that I think helps us a bunch (not only that we are running with two climbers) is a mini skid steer. It gives us a separation between our tree work zone and our chipper work zone allowing for more time and space to see an issue developing. And correct it. Under most conditions if a rope leaves its plumb line due to brush the machine is stopped, rope freed and the job continues.
I hope your hand heals quickly, glad you still have all your fingers!
 

treehumper

Well-Known Member
#13
Whether there's one, two or a dozen, the focus needs to be on safe work practices first and for the whole crew. If that's not the case then production, thus speed, becomes the driving force. Another person at the chipper will translate into feeding more faster not enhanced safety.

Start with a culture of safety and interdependence. When there is that commitment to working safely in all respects along with a commitment to team performance then things like this can be mitigated.

How can I help you work safer and stay focused on your part? This is a question each crew/team member can ask each other. Then things like watching out for lines can be pointed out if the chipper is set up close to the work zone. I know when that's the scenario, I'm slower in the tree since I tend to divide my attention on the next section to cut and what's going on with my lines on the ground.
 

southsoundtree

Well-Known Member
#14
If I'm close to the chipper, I carry my rope. Not worth the stress and congestion. Easier to have a few lengths of rope than carry 200' for everything. Mostly, I climb with 12o', and with the Hitchhiker, I can pretty much always reach the ground in an emergency, whenever I'm cutting.

Mitigate that risk, rather than pay attention to it.

$0.02.


Oh, yeah, my chipper key ring has the chipped climbing rope from the one and only time my rope is getting chipped. I didn't think it could even reach. A lot of rope with an SRT base-tie, plus stretch as I worked started adding more rope to the little that was on the ground.

Often, carrying your rope simplifies ground operations.
The right length of rigging rope, also simplifies ground operations.
Simpler can be safer.
 

southsoundtree

Well-Known Member
#15
I snagged my finger with a half-hitch on the throw-line. When that weight come to a jolting stop, you know it.


Chippers/ stump grinders running around any ropes on the ground is a potential for bad things. When they can be separated by planning, it can be safer. Chipping or grinding might be suspended for 5 minutes while using a throwline near the chipper. A time for a break or change of task, possibly.
 

treehumper

Well-Known Member
#16
Mitigate that risk, rather than pay attention to it.
Agreed. However, I still feel it's a matter of working with everyone v. independently. Of late I've noticed my ground crew isn't as attentive to managing the ropes on the ground. Keeping it in the bag instead of just tossing it out of the way when a branch snags it.

Time to revisit some basics with them.
 

Raven

Well-Known Member
#18
Holy cow thanks for sharing this, glad your OK and kept all your parts. I heard of a guy wrapping his ear once just tossing the ball, didn't cut it off but ouch!
Even the innocuous looking throwline can be dangerous, and chippers???? Put the two together and watch out.

Bart Simpson writes on the chalkboard: "I will never throwball near a running chipper - ever"..... repeat 100 times
 

macswan

Well-Known Member
#19
Well here is a tale that has multiple mistakes to learn from. Thankfully I escaped with "minor" injuries. Here's the scene:

My crew and I were felling white pines into the woods and cleaning them up. I was felling and my crew was alternating between running the chipper controls and staging brush for the mini. We were in a great rhythm and looking good to finish on time. 11:30ish and 1 more "nothing" tree before lunch. 12" DBH 40' tall. The tree had back lean but nothing crazy that a pull rope won't solve. My crew was chipping up the end of the last top and I grabbed my throwline to set the rope... hit the crotch and started to pull the line up and in. I looked down and saw my dynaglide snagged in the top that was going into the feed rollers. I tried to drop the line and yell to a crew member that was by the chipper. In the blink of an eye the line was by the feed rollers and wrapped around the drum (come to find out 68'9"). As it was ripped out of my hand it took chunks out of my pinky and rope burned every single finger. Took a hospital trip and got the wounds cleaned and stitched. Thought that sucked enough until the back pain started 1 day later. I could barely walk for more than a week and it is just now starting to not go into spasm constantly.

So as I said I made plenty of mistakes you can learn from.
1. Keep all cordage away from large tangle hazards (skid steers, chippers, stump grinders etc.)
2. That "nothing" tree can and will get you if you disregard it.
3. Right before any major stoppage of work is the most dangerous time of the day.

I'm sure many of you have seen the video of the climbing line going through the chipper. It is crazy how fast it happens. I was extremely lucky in this and am greatful for that fact. If the line had gotten wrapped around a body part it would have been a much different ending. Figured you may be able to learn from my mistakes. A wise man once said "Lessons not paid for in blood are easily forgotten." Well it didn't bleed but I've learned.
Stay focused and stay safe.
Cheers
yowch! glad you are recovering well, sorry to hear about that Seth.
 
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