When people try to do their own treework

Mark Chisholm

Administrator
Administrator
I recently posted on IG in a story about a guy and his kids tackling a fallen tree. I joked about the situation and have since been contacted through IG about the situation and thought that it deserves a good talk here.

The situation I saw was a guy cutting a fallen tree while his 2 kids were close by and moving brush. I joked about them being there with dish gloves and the dad with no PPE. I didnt like seeing the kids so close to the saw or the tree while it was shifting. I don't have a problem with people doing their own work, but I do have a problem knowing the statistics. What do you guys think?
 

Barc Buster

Well-Known Member
Mark I feel the same. On the rare occasion a homeowner let's slip they are going to diy a tree, I usually urge them to do a youtube search for tree cutting ladder fails or something similar. I am nearly booked up for the season, so I say it in a good natured friendly manner from a place of genuine care for their wellbeing. Usually if I get that vibe from a potential client during an estimate I'll give them a "sweat equity" option where I complete the project to the point where they can safely handle the clean up. Some people like to feel they saved some money, and I get work I might otherwise have missed out on. Plus I know I won't see them on the news. Win-win
 

Anawan

Member
Location
Asheville
This is a good question and I thought about it after you initially posted the dish glove comment on IG. First I laughed, then felt weird- I worry about throwing judgement at folks who don’t have the money to hire a professional or the time to research best practices. They are just doing what they can with what they have, trying to take care of their family just like all of us. It’s tough because you want folks to stay out of harms way, especially when children are involved.

I think if you see something that looks unsafe, it’s worth stepping over there and giving them some feedback. It might be uncomfortable but could give the dad and his two kids some rudimentary new safety concepts for working around chainsaws and trees.
 

kmac

New Member
Location
Missouri
IMO this is a much higher level issue with our industry and its perception to the general public.

When people have issues with the power in their home, HVAC, gas, etc... really any issue that requires a 'skilled tradesman' is generally not going to be attempted by your average homeowner, why? Because that's what they've been told and the risks associated with the work are obvious... gas go boom and electric go zap! That and it's generally known that these trades generally require some sort of formal education or apprenticeship. As much as I want to say that we are a skilled trade and are educated professionals (we are), we just aren't there yet in the publics eye or even within our own industry. Case in point, just recently I had a gentleman walk up to a job site while we were removing a tree asking me where I got my spikes from... and that he has done some "tree cutting and removed a few trees." I politely informed him how dangerous our job can be to untrained individuals and that it's not as simple as just buying a pair of spikes and letting it rip. After the interaction though, it sat with me that there is absolutely nothing stopping him from buying a pair of spikes, starting his own tree business, and possibly becoming another statistic.

The other side of the token is that the line between DIY work and knowing when to hire an arborist can be blurred. Landscaping and landscape maintenance is one of those industries that most people will just do on their own because they can and is mostly manual labor anyways, so why can't they just apply that same mentality to their trees? Can't be that hard right? Just go buy or borrow a chainsaw, grab some beers, a ladder, go to YouTube university for 3 minutes, and then attempt to flex your (wo)man card. I think for a lot of people that you see doing the sketchy DIY tree work, it's usually because they can't see that there is a line between general landscaping and tree work, two different beasts.

We're guilty of this too though... how many of us do our own repairs on our own vehicles? Who hasn't jerry-rigged a piece of machinery or equipment because we didn't want to pay or figured we could just do it ourselves? You think those mechanics probably think the same way we do about people DIY'ing their tree work when they see some of our repairs?

With that last thought in mind, I usually just think "Holy !@#$, that's sketchy" and go on with my day. We're doing everything we can to professionalize our industry through credentials, education, discussions like this, and more.... but it's going to be a while before we stop seeing people in dangerous situations because they wanted to save a few bucks or figured they could just handle it themselves.
 

ATH

Well-Known Member
Location
Ohio
...After the interaction though, it sat with me that there is absolutely nothing stopping him from buying a pair of spikes, starting his own tree business, and possibly becoming another statistic...
That describes a scary high percentage of our industry... I don't know what the number is, but it is certainly there, and why we pay so much for workers comp. Painting is kinda like that too... little barrier to entry, but plenty of risk, and they have high workers comp too.
 
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Crimsonking

Well-Known Member
Today I did some pruning for a friend, who said he was so glad he called me rather than try to do it himself. His neighbor then shared a personal ladder story that really drove the point home.

Some people comment on our skill when they see us work, but today I thought about the skills they don’t perceive, because they don’t perceive the risks we’re mitigating, and they don't perceive the potential difficulty that we can turn to ease with proper execution. It’s wild when you think about it- what makes our job look deceptively simple at times (and tempting to attempt), are the skill and knowledge that prevent others from safely accomplishing the task. In our minds we visualize the potentials. It’s noisy in our heads- gutters ripping off of houses, driveways getting cracked, windows shattering. But the customer sees a branch gently tip over, hang, and lower to the ground.

Yesterday I called my wife while doing a solo dead oak removal. Customer was home and observing as well, so don’t freak. So I had my wife through my headset, and asked her to mute while I did the technical parts. When I’m in a high pressure moment, I voice out my calculations and process. After I finished the technical portions of this removal, my wife remarked that she had no idea just how much we have to track and calculate constantly. I didn’t know to calculate those things when I started in this industry. What looked like quiet, simple action, was actually a mentally loud, multifaceted process that ended with a tip of the iceberg decision.

It’s midnight, and I’m rambling. No big picture solutions for DIY statistics, but an observation on perceptions and new awareness of the tale of two cuts- such loud, fast paced calculating, visualizing, and deciding vs a quiet pause, glance, and cut.
 

cerviarborist

Very stable member
Location
Florida, USA
I appreciate everyone's good intentions, but know that once you walk onto that property, you own the outcome. Further, if you're doing it for free and something goes sideways and damage or injury occurs, the first thing your insurance company will ask for in the event of a claim will be a work order and proof of their payment for services.

The other side of the coin is that if Mr/Mrs DIY lays a tree through their home, the first thing their insurance company is going to want to know is why they didn't retain a professional, and it may have a bearing on whether their insurance company will support them and to what extent.
 

Mark Chisholm

Administrator
Administrator
Mark I feel the same. On the rare occasion a homeowner let's slip they are going to diy a tree, I usually urge them to do a youtube search for tree cutting ladder fails or something similar. I am nearly booked up for the season, so I say it in a good natured friendly manner from a place of genuine care for their wellbeing. Usually if I get that vibe from a potential client during an estimate I'll give them a "sweat equity" option where I complete the project to the point where they can safely handle the clean up. Some people like to feel they saved some money, and I get work I might otherwise have missed out on. Plus I know I won't see them on the news. Win-win
Great way to handle it.
 

Cereal_Killer

Well-Known Member
Location
Ohio
Just last Thursday I was taking my lunch break down a quiet shady cul-de-sac, my next job wasn't even on this road it's just a place I've breaked before, well when I got there an elderly homeowner was scratching his head looking perplexed at the 60+ foot, 12+" DBH tree he attempted to fell himself laying across the road 90° from the direction of his "notch" (I use that term loosely). I offered him a water and to handle the cleanup, I think he was to embarrassed to accept the help. Just glad I didn't pull up and find him dead. Poulan Pro saw was laying on the ground still running likely where he dropped it as the hinge broke the wrong way, must of just missed the action.
 

Matt hawley

New Member
Location
Boyne city
Unfortunately this is my father in law. He’s a country guy who thinks he knows how to do tree work. He’s fallen out of a tree twice with a running chainsaw. This is a very touchy subject between us. I’ve said all I can say to him so now I just don’t say anything anymore. All I can do is say prayers. Watching or hearing about people doing tree work who aren’t qualified makes me very uncomfortable.
 

Anawan

Member
Location
Asheville
Unfortunately this is my father in law. He’s a country guy who thinks he knows how to do tree work. He’s fallen out of a tree twice with a running chainsaw. This is a very touchy subject between us. I’ve said all I can say to him so now I just don’t say anything anymore. All I can do is say prayers. Watching or hearing about people doing tree work who aren’t qualified makes me very uncomfortable.
A lot of these behaviors have to do with being raised as a man- not asking for help- being stubborn about a way to do something - (see swing Dutchman thread for glaring example) - feeling invincible and also of the mindset that, if they get hurt, they will just man up and get over it. You are a professional tree worker giving advice to a relative who has fallen out of a tree TWICE, and he still isn’t hearing reason. Where does that come from?

Anyone have any stories of a female taking similar actions, tackling a tree without proper PPE or training, falling out of a ladder, ignoring all common sense around them?
 

Birdyman88

Well-Known Member
Location
Arlington
dish gloves and the dad with no PPE
I don't know, in the real word, chainsaws, kids, and no PPE has plenty of other risky equivalents that nobody talks too much about. The American spirit is a tough, DIY, self sufficiency type thing. People pass along whatever skills they can to kids in case they have to survive on their own one day. It's complicated subject that could probably end up in a polital discussion nowadays, so I'm not sure there is a "right" answer. I know a guy who runs a 660 all the time on his property without any PPE other than glasses. I rag him about it all the time. But, he actually wields a saw pretty well. But, in general, he's also a borderline dumbass who thinks he knows everything. If he ever got cut, I doubt he would even look back and regret anything. Time will tell. We just agree to disagree over chaps.

But as for the original post, I totally disagree with the dad's method, but I'm not even sure I'd stop and hand the guy a card unless something was aerial.
 
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Matt hawley

New Member
Location
Boyne city
A lot of these behaviors have to do with being raised as a man- not asking for help- being stubborn about a way to do something - (see swing Dutchman thread for glaring example) - feeling invincible and also of the mindset that, if they get hurt, they will just man up and get over it. You are a professional tree worker giving advice to a relative who has fallen out of a tree TWICE, and he still isn’t hearing reason. Where does that come from?

Anyone have any stories of a female taking similar actions, tackling a tree without proper PPE or training, falling out of a ladder, ignoring all common sense around them?
I don’t know of any females that do this. In general I think females don’t have the ego that men have so they listen better and really make an effort to do things properly.
 

Serf Life

Well-Known Member
Location
Maine Island
@cerviarborist makes a very good point. Is there a defensible release of liability document that a HO could sign in a situation like this? August had a video where a guy had hung-up a tree and signed a doc saying any damage would be accepted and whatnot.
 

flushcut

Well-Known Member
Location
Delavan, WI
Personally I am all for regular folks doing their own tree work because I get to charge a premium when they eff up. And most people won't tackle the really big stuff which is fine by me. They can cut all the buckthorn they want.
 

AdkEric

Active Member
Location
Adirondacks
I did a job back in June - half of a codominant red oak failed at about 20 feet up and was hung up in another tree. Homeowner called me after he tried it himself and his extension ladder buckled, sending him to the ground with a running chainsaw. Fortunately he wasn't hurt too bad. Sore and bruised ego. He is a very self sufficient, figure it out on your own type of guy, but he said this made him realize he should keep his feet on the ground.

Formally, I don't think there is much that can be done about this. Individuals are accountable for what their limits are, or should be. However if a pro has the platform and ability and willingness to educate, that might be the best means of steering the DIYer in the right direction.
 

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