A note on PPE (personal protective equipment)
Here are a few reasons why I don’t wear a helmet most of the time:
- Most accidents include fatigue as a contributing factor. In an effort to lessen fatigue the body vents a lot of it’s heat through the head. Nothing allows heat to escape the body better than a naked head.
- Stress also adds to fatigue. Discomfort adds to stress. I find helmets to be cumbersome and very uncomfortable. I’m sure newer helmets are more comfortable but nothings more comfortable than a naked head.
- Chinstraps or neck straps create even more discomfort.
- I want to hear everything when I climb. Bees buzzing, squirrels scampering and wood cracking for example. I don’t like covering my ears with anything and I don’t see communication with the ground crew as a reason to do it. If the ground crew is good then all we need is an occasional hand signal or gesture. A good ground man usually knows what I’m gonna’ do before I do it. I find most conversations to be a waste of time and energy.
Of course there are exceptions to every rule. When doing crane work I find communication very helpful. Also, if there is an excessive amount of deadwood overhead or if I can’t get a good view of the top of the tree. In these situations I’ll wear a helmet.
Every climber has a unique set of strengths and weakenesses. We need to find the tools necessary and develop techniques that are most helpful. If you find that PPE (personal protective equipment) and/or new school techniques work well for you then by all means I support your decision. Climbers need to take responsibility for their own safety and make decisions that make them feel safe and comfortable.
In the picture below the real feel temperature was 98 degrees but the risk of deadwood falling on this nasty dead beech tree was greater than the risk of overheating. This tree required extra precautions and wearing a helmet was one of them.
It’s easy to find lots of examples of accidents that could’ve been less serious if the helmet had been worn. The problem with my argument is that there’s no way for me to prove how many accidents happen because of fatigue and exactly how much of that fatigue was caused by PPE.
Tree work videos
Oldest Tree in Little Falls
This is the tree from the “Measure Twice Cut Once” video I was sorry to see it go.
This huge willow tree was in the later stages of decay. There were no structures underneath it so i was able to drop it in large sections without ropes. Less than five cuts brought it down in less than an hour.
We took down this large oak next to the house. Some of the cuts were very difficult and it rained most of the day but the most stress I felt that day was watching Tim Stanton set up his crane. Tim always goes above and beyond the call of duty. Very few crane operators would take a job like this one.