When it comes to Personal Protective Equipment, the American National Standards Institute Z133 has a few guidelines on what tree care professionals should wear to protect some of their most valuable assets. Read on to find out what is recommended.
Probably the easiest part of the standard to apply is the section on PPE, but, unfortunately, this section quite often is ignored. PPE is the first line of defense against workplace injuries and accidents; given the cost of injuries, PPE certainly could be viewed as extremely cheap insurance. Safe work practices and techniques go a long way toward preventing injuries and accidents, and some attention to the ANSI personal protective equipment section can be valuable financially, physically and emotionally.
Head – Helmets or hard hats are required during tree care operations, and Class E helmets/hard hats must be used when working near electrical conductors. Users should keep in mind that a skateboarding, cycling or snowboarding helmet might not meet the standards, regardless of how cool it looks.
Ears – While the standard speaks of a “time-weighted average” of 85 decibels over eight hours, the reality is that most tree care worksites are noisy, ear-destroying locations. Hearing protection should be in use whenever a litany of chippers and grinders is operating. Plugs or muffs typically will provide adequate protection and can be worn in tandem, but users should keep in mind the care and maintenance of whatever ear protection they employ.
Eyes – More than a few things around a tree care worksite will “put your eye out,” so eye protection is a must. Users should keep in mind the required protection necessary to protect the eyes and avoid picking one brand simply on the basis of fashion or its “cool factor.”
Legs and down below – The standard continues to require chain saw-resistant leg/lower body protection when operating a saw on the ground, but not when aloft. Personal experience has shown that a chain saw injury to the lower body while climbing can be more likely and much more difficult to deal with medically. In addition, individual states, provinces and municipalities may require leg/lower body chain saw protection at all times. Regardless, tree crew members would be well-advised to exceed the standard in this case and wear leg/lower body protection at all times when operating a chain saw.