/ Abseiling and sawing

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MG - on 04 Dec 2012
I have been asked to remove a tree growing out a of the side of a viaduct on the basis I know how to abseil (long story). This will require sawing the tree and clearly saws and loaded ropes are a bad combination. Does anyone with experience of serious gardening have any tips beyond take a lot of care?
mkean - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to MG:
The ultra-thin slings Beal make are not chainsaw proof.

Have you done much tree bothering? I'm quite a fan of the reverse curved Wolf pruning saws for working in trees.
jkarran - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to MG:

> I have been asked to remove a tree growing out a of the side of a viaduct on the basis I know how to abseil (long story). This will require sawing the tree and clearly saws and loaded ropes are a bad combination. Does anyone with experience of serious gardening have any tips beyond take a lot of care?

You won't accidentally cut a slack back-up rope.
jk
rocky57 - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to MG:

Any chance of hearing the long story?

Also, is there not some kind of agency looking after the said viaduct?

Just curious, feel free to ignore.
rocky57 - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to MG:

Sorry forgot to add.

Slack rope secured slightly to the side should provide enough comfort.
martinph78 on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to MG: Get someone else to do it, who has liability insurance for when you drop a saw/branch/coffee on someones head.

MG - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to rocky57:
> (In reply to MG)
>
> Any chance of hearing the long story?
>


Well not that long. It's a charity/fun steam railway run by volunteers or similar. The bridge is about 25m high and has a tree growing out of the side. Roped access etc. is expensive so a colleague asked if I could do anything. I am going to have a look later.

Thanks all for suggestions I was planning a slack rope which I think together with taking care, should be fine.
Milesy - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to MG:

Silly question but have you considered any structual issus which caused be caused by removing something which has taken root on something like this?
MG - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Milesy:
> (In reply to MG)
>
> Silly question but have you considered any structual issus which caused be caused by removing something which has taken root on something like this?

I will when I look at it. I think the bigger concern are structural issues from not removing it!

Neil Williams - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to MG:

I think it's time for a proper structural engineer to look first...

Neil
Neil Williams - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Neil Williams:

(assuming, of course, that you aren't one)

Neil
Howard J - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to MG: Charities are not exempt from health and safety rules. You should carry out a proper risk assessment and consider insurance (for yourself, and third parties).
Chris Ridgers - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to MG: Just some things for you to think about:
1. Always use 2 anchor points when cutting and always put a stopper not in your rope!!!
2. Get a mate to stay on the ground to keep branches clear of your ropes!
3. Research the type of tree you’re working on, how brittle is it?
4. Is it safe to climb? Any cavities?, any “V shaped unions”, wasps nest? (unlikely this time of year)
5. Any nesting birds, bats or any other endangered species nearby?
6. Any TPO’s? Conservation aria? If so you could get a fine for cutting it down!

Hope this helps!
MG - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Neil Williams: I tick that box too.
MG - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to Chris Ridgers: Thanks. It does.
krikoman - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to MG: Christ again!! with the health and safety brigade!!! I think the OP has an idea about how dangerous it might be, he asked if anyone had any experience not "could you please tell me why I shouldn't do it"

I’m surprised half the people on UKC cross the road never mind climb anything.


Second both Chris and Karran’s advice. Oh I wouldn’t use a chainsaw, if you’ve had no practice.
mkean - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to krikoman:
Oh I wouldn’t use a chainsaw, if you’ve had no practice.

Christ again!! with the health and safety brigade!!!

Was that meant to be funny? How are you going to learn how to use a chainsaw without getting out there and trying it?

;-)



mkean - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to MG:
A few other useful points:
- Clear your fall zone, work out where you think the tree may fall and double that area. Don't let people in while you are working. While lots of arborists wander around in fall zones they know the person with the saw knows what he is doing (plus they are all mad).

- Take two saws, it is easy to get a saw stuck if you don't know what you are doing and you don't want to leave a part cut tree.

- If possible section it into little bits before dropping it.

- Watch out for the cut end kicking when you break through, they can jump a suprisingly long way. Being hit in the chest by a bit of wood bigger than you will really ruin your day.

- Cut up under the branches before starting your main cut to avoid ending up with a branch suspended by a bit of bark.

- Keep everything you may need on leashes that will break if they get badly snagged. You don't want to drop your saw but then again you don't want it getting fired back at you under tension or snagging and leaving you hung up.

- Have someone else about who can rescue you if you screw up.

- Don't use a brown black or green rope.

- Make sure your ropes aren't in the fall line, you don't want half a ton of tree suddenly getting tangled in your dead rope. Get a rope bucket.

foxwood on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to MG:

Done a fair bit of clearing hanging on a shunt before and it all depends how big the tree is ...

a) use two ropes and make sure they reach the ground if abbing off
b) have prussiks/ascender in case you need to go up
c) make sure cuttings dont hit/tangle in rope below as they fall otherwise you will get pulled about quite hard
d) use a bowsaw only (I'm chicken!) and hang it on a long lanyard so hands free - and you won't lose it then
e) trim tree steadily back so each piece cut/drop in control - could rope each piece and lower in control - depends if what is below could be damaged or not by big sections landing
e) make cut underneath & opposite main top cut so doesn't rip back along trunk as you finally cut through
f) important for big stuff - never have any part of your body above the cut. Widow makers happen - as you cut the weight/stress can cause instant break along the outward length and the tail where you were cutting jumps up and hits you - very hard ! Hence the name :/

... and rest ...
foxwood on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to mkean:

You sound like you know what you are talking about !

Glad, as an amateur, I made at least some of the same points as you ;)
mkean - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to foxwood:
I'm definitely not a pro :-)

I've just been lucky(?) to have grown up around large trees and parents who never liked to pay someone for a job they could do themselves. I've dropped a few >70' trees in the last 15 years and done quite a lot of pruning. I've made a lot of the classic mistakes:

- Catching falling saws
- Chainsawing through a sling
- Being in the fall zone and getting hit by a branch
- Getting dragged through a hedge by a heavier than expected branch on a block and tackle.
- Getting hit by a kicking branch as I cut through.
- Having my ladder swept out from under me.
- Bending a steel access tower trying to lower a branch (6' long 18" thick bit of wet oak)
- Falling out of a leylandi
- Discovering the hard way that willow is 'snappy'
....
daWalt on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to krikoman:
> (In reply to MG) Christ again!! with the health and safety brigade!!! I think the OP has an idea about how dangerous [rant, moan, etc...]

Hmmm, oh dear.
We appear to have crossed line with the Daily Mail letters page..........
Hat Dude on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to MG:

Like Mkean & Foxwood; I've done a fair bit of serious tree pruning over the years and I think they've given you a lot of good advice.

I'd second doing the job in stages as things will be a bit easier to predict.

Clearing the tree of any brash around where you're doing any major cutting, is a good idea

A couple of years ago I bought a Silky pull saw on the advice of a professional tree surgeon, not cheap but a brilliant investment.
In reply to MG:

I'm sure you know this but just because it hasn't been mentioned; because you're hanging around on a rope for a while in the same spot, you want to be wary of it rubbing on the edge you go over more than you would with a straightforward abseil. Concrete is especially good at abrading through rope. You can do this by using edge protectors, reduce sawing and stretching over the edge by using a semi-static rope, or you can re-belay over the edge (if there's a suitable way to do this on what you're abbing off). If super safety conscious you can do all of the above, and make sure you do the same for your safety back up too.

Have fun too, and have kit to make ascending the rope easy if you need to move up and down, less faff will make it much more enjoyable.
Jim Hamilton - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to MG:

branches seem a lot bigger when close up than when sizing up from the ground.

make sure you will be able to finish the job with the saw you have, as you don't want to leave a part sawn tree
krikoman - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to MG: Take straw and petrol and set fire to it.
Howard J - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to krikoman:
> (In reply to MG) Christ again!! with the health and safety brigade!!! I think the OP has an idea about how dangerous it might be, he asked if anyone had any experience not "could you please tell me why I shouldn't do it"
>
> I’m surprised half the people on UKC cross the road never mind climb anything.
>

This is a completely different situation from recreational climbing and abseiling, or crossing the road for that matter. Even if it's voluntary, and for a charity/not for profit organisation, it's still "work", and there are legal obligations on both the "employer" and the person carrying out the work. These days I'm afraid that means a written risk assessment and method statement, and all the other boring but necessary crap which we all complain about. Charities and similar organisations can't avoid their legal obligations just because they have limited resources.

It's not saying, "this is dangerous, you musn't do it", it's to show that you have considered where the dangers lie, who might be affected, and how to mitigate the risks. The OP is clearly doing that by asking questions here, but it's also important that once he's got some answers and decided how to approach the job that it's all written down.

If you don't do this, and something does go wrong, then it becomes very difficult to demonstrate that you've properly considered the risks and mitigating actions. That leaves you open to prosecution by the HSE and perhaps problems with insurance.

When we climb we can escape from this and decide for ourselves what level of risk we're willing to accept. In the workplace (which this is) we don't have that luxury.

Professionally, I manage land belonging to a charity and frequently have to instruct contractors to carry out very similar work to what the OP is considering. We insist on seeing their risk assessment, method statement and insurance.
muppetfilter - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to MG: Where is the Viaduct ? I am at a loose end for a week or so and will happily come and help you do it if its not too far,I have all the necessary liability insurance and qualifications.
Dave Perry - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to MG:

lf it's a broadleaf tree and not a pine don't forget to use a small brush loaded with brushkiller and wipe the stump/s or it'll just sprout again next year.
ruttingstag on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to MG: how big is the tree?
ads.ukclimbing.com
richprideaux - on 04 Dec 2012
Bruce Hooker - on 04 Dec 2012
In reply to MG:

I've done lots of sawing, hacking and generally messing about with sharp things when hanging on ropes... The secret is to careful, and have 2 ropes just in case, but I've never had any problems with cutting the rope, even when using a chain saw. If you were really worried, or feel a bit ham-fisted, you could use a length of chain for the last few feet to your harness, you'd eliminate any risk of cutting what you were hanging on that way... might blunt the saw though :-)
daWalt on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to shingsowa:
> (In reply to Howard J)
>
> Even if he is volunteering?
>
> http://www.hse.gov.uk/contact/faqs/charities.htm

Yes.
HSW 1974 "work" is both paid or unpaid......

wurzelinzummerset on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Dave Perry: Then he's got COSHH regulations to think about if he brings along herbicides...
MG - on 05 Dec 2012
Thanks all for the (helpful) responses. A reccy yesterday suggested it won't be too hard in fact, after taking on board various tips.
cuppatea on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to MG:

Never mind all those fancy acronyms the (squeaky voice) Health And Safety lot enjoy so much, just avoid the RIDDORs
muppetfilter - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to cuppatea:
The people that generally bad mouth health and safety tend to work behind a desk and have never seen blood being painted over or seen fingers on the floor meters away from their previous owner.

cuppatea on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to muppetfilter:

Indeed. And some use the words as some sort of magic talisman to prevent people doing things that they can't be bothered to risk assess or make safe.
The urban myth about the school banning games of Conkers is perhaps an example of what I mean.


I'm not knocking h&s legislation btw, it used to be a large part of my job in my previous life
muppetfilter - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to cuppatea: It is simple task MG is going to do, 99.99999% of the time he will.

:Use 2 suitable devices ID,Stop,Gri Gri / Rocker,shunt,asap
:establish an exclusion zone under the worksite
:select 2 good anchors
:make sure the ropes reach the ground
:protect his ropes on the edge with carpet and a canvas protector
:watch out for projections/ sharp bits as he descends that could damage the rope
:keep the saw away from the ropes as he descends
:Unleash hell upon the offending sapling (being carefull not to damage the rope)
:Dig out the roots and repoint the masonry
:descent and have a cuppa

However in 0.000001% of the time it could result in a broken pelvis,head/spinal injury, internal bleeding and a handsaw jammed where the sun don't shine.
cuppatea on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to muppetfilter:

Could it be that a formal risk assessment is merely what any of us do in our heads every time we cross the road/abseil/use a ladder/make a cup of tea, but in written form?

Avoiding such an onerous task is seen as a game, after all, none of us actually like being told what to do, even if we would have done it anyway.

muppetfilter - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to cuppatea: I am pretty sure that Archaeologist have never come across Mammoth hunting permits or Sabre Tooth Tiger Risk Assessment cards.

The process of stopping and evaluating a task before doing it can sometimes save a world of pain. Sadly I was on a job where a young Tunisian lad ignored the internal voice that said "Don't put your arm in the F**ing trash compactor while its running"
Bruce Hooker - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to muppetfilter:

Not exactly living dangerously though, is it?

I think you are being a little conservative concerning the risk though, even ordinary abseiling probably has a higher accident rate than this... like crossing the road in London.
muppetfilter - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to Bruce Hooker: In this particular situation the major hazards have been adressed to the point that the risk of incident is minimal. From the correct selection of equipment and anchors to rope protection from edges and tools. A backup rope, a locking descending device and a seperately rigged belay/ haul system will cover the risk of an uncontrolled descent.

London can't be as bad as Hanoi or Riyadh for crossing the roads, at least vehicles don't have victim stamps like a WWII fighter ace on them ;0)
krikoman - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to wurzelinzummerset: and the biological suit.

It's no wonder nothing gets done in Britain any more.

I wasn't saying don't NOT think about safety, but really method statements!!

Method statements are on the hole(sic) to cover someone's arse or for idiots.

I'm not saying they aren't useful but it's because of 5 weeks training and you qualifide atitude.... Blah blah I really can't be arsed!
jhsp - on 06 Dec 2012
In reply to muppetfilter:

Aye. The thing about H&S is, it's not for the benefit of those who have to make risk assessments, it's for the benefit of the spotty youth who has to work within rules to avoid topping himself.

A friend works for forensic investigator. Two favourite stories:

1. A company ends up with large numbers of wooden palettes. It gets rid of these with a giant grinder. Palettes go in the hopper above, sawdust comes out below. Problem - spotty youths overload it and it gets jammed. Solution? (1) rewire it to remove safety cut offs. (2) get a step ladder. (3) climb up to the edge of the hopper. Hold on to the edge. Jump up and down on the palettes until it re-starts.

Terrifying outcome? They found both arms still holding on to the edge of the hopper. The rest of him had been pulled into the grinder when it re-started. Company (unsurprisingly) sued for very large sums when they found out about the re-wiring.

2. A company makes chemicals. A pre-cursor chemical is napthalene, which is solid at room temperature, and liquid above 80 degrees. Napthalene flows from a heated storage tank through pipes to the rest of the plant. A blockage requires the plant to shut down and the pipework out of the storage tank to be investigated. The workers shut off the main napthalene valve, and take the pipework apart to fix the problem. Then they re-assemble the pipework, and open the valve. Nothing happens - no flow. They take the pipe apart again, and look further. They the section just after the main valve is clogged with solid napthalene, since without a constant flow, the pipes cool down below 80. Solution? Get a blow torch, and heat the pipe up until the blockage melts. The blockage melts, and several thousand litres of hot napthalene spill out of the pipe onto the factory floor, via their blowtorch. Factory completely destroyed by fire.

These might all be Darwin Award candidates, but people do stuff without thinking. In the palette case, people would clear blockages several times a day like that, it became regular practice. In the case of the fire, using a blowtorch around napthalene is crazy, but if they'd have remembered to re-shut the valve after the first test, it would have been a smaller fire.
richprideaux - on 06 Dec 2012
In reply to daWalt:
> (In reply to shingsowa)
> [...]
>
> Yes.
> HSW 1974 "work" is both paid or unpaid......

The HSE website seems to suggest otherwise in that if the voluntary organisation DOES NOT have at least one paid employee. The duty of care remains, and I think laws regarding railway structures may apply.

" It is not possible to sue for damages under the HSW Act itself although a breach of health and safety regulations may be cited as part of a civil claim for compensation based on a breach of statutory duty.

HSE and local authority health and safety officers have no power to investigate incidents or pursue enforcement action in relation to most purely voluntary activities (subject to limited exceptions such as where a volunteer is in control of non-domestic premises).

When health and safely law applies

The HSW Act and the regulations made under it apply if any organisation, including a voluntary organisation, has at least one employee. The Act refers to employers and the self-employed as ‘dutyholders'."

Taken from:


http://www.hse.gov.uk/voluntary/when-it-applies.htm

daWalt on 06 Dec 2012
In reply to shingsowa:
You're right,
I am making the assumption that the OP's mate's charity (whoever whatever) fits that criteria of at least one paid employee.
I don't have any charity experience but I guess that the vast majority do, even if staffed by volunteers there's usually one paid person. Else no one would do the really boring arsy paperwork type stuff (e.g. from my limited experience all charity shops have a paid manager the rest volunteers).
I think this criteria is to separate H&S law from, say, you and you're mates doing whatever you want to do (informal collections of like minded individuals etc. typ'a'thing.)

I think there might be more to this than first appears.
Network Rail are still responsible for all their structures including disused ones. I would be surprised if this thing is privately owned. (could be tho).
richprideaux - on 06 Dec 2012
In reply to daWalt:

I was coming at the volunteer/charity aspect from an MRT viewpoint - i.e. zero paid staff, but an organisation that still has a duty of care an operates in that way etc.
marysboy - on 07 Dec 2012
In reply to MG:

I've done quite a bit of this and it sounds like my circumstances closely match yours. Although thankfully I don't have so many nasty previous experiences.

Most of the big points have been covered already so I’ll just add a couple of extra things that spring to mind.

Number 1 is make sure the site is safe from a railway point-of-view (ie take a possession and lock signals, tip out a rail either site of the site, lock level crossing gates or whatever your railway does). Sounds obvious but do make sure no trains are running if you’re rigging from the track – which you may well be given that it makes an excellent anchor. Have someone remain topside to check that no trespassers untie your ropes for fun (in a work capacity this would normally be a competent rope access person).

I rig two 120cm x 25mm sewn slings round the base of two difference chairs - rather than over the rail. Two ropes each attached to both anchors. I use 11mm semi-static (caving) rope for both lines – paid for by the railway of course. One session will return the outlay. They get a lot of hammer so the extra thickness is a requirement, not a nice-to-have. I keep them at my house to make sure they are stored properly and not mis-used by other staff.

From a practical point of view, I favour a 12" bowsaw as they are much more wieldy in use. If you haven't seen one, you'll think it's a child's toy when you first see it compared to a 24" blade but they're reallly worth trying for the convenience. Mine is by Bahco. I tend not to tie things onto me; if something goes wrong I want to be a long way away from the implements, not tied to them. Occasionally I drop a saw or whatever but I just go pick it up. Not suitable for all circumstances of course. You can’t beat a full-size spade for chopping out small roots, brambles and poor mortar from the joints.

To help prevent regrowth, use a glyphosphate weedkiller (roundup is the brand name but active ingredient is same in cheaper versions. We use SBK brushwood killer). Apply as per instructions of course – so liberally coat the cut stump immediately after cutting. This means you need to carry the pot of chemicals with you which I don’t like doing because it inevitably spills which is bad for environment and finances (and possibly ropes etc). So as a compromise I mix the weedkiller and leave at top/bottom of rope, then do a round of cutting (ie one rig) then go back to apply weedkiller. To get a good coating of weedkiller, especially on vertical cut faces, we usually mix wallpaper paste then add the weedkiller to that. This makes tree death paste. Add a drop of red/blue/green food colouring to see which stumps you’ve done and how much you’ve spilt on your trousers.

For serious stumps (ie anything from a good-size bush upwards) EcoPlugs are the thing to have. I believe they are a professional product so find your railway’s competent weedkiller applier / vegetation control expert and ask him to get some. These are plastic plugs with a dose of weedkiller that you hammer into drilled holes round the perimeter of a cut stump. Sounds like a phaff but these are ten times easier and cleaner to use than the household glyphosphate weedkiller. You won’t go back once trying ecoplugs – and they’re dead effective too.

That’s all I can think of for now.

Cheers,
Ian.


krikoman - on 07 Dec 2012
In reply to jhsp: you believe this shite? "They found both arms still holding on to the edge of the hopper." please!!

were not talking about him setting out work for someone else either, he's cutting tree down, if you wanted to he could say he just decided to do it himself, no involvement of the charity and no liability.

krikoman - on 07 Dec 2012
In reply to MG: Oh! just a thought, on how to cut a branch safely try this.

http://www.wikihow.com/Cut-a-Limb-from-a-Tree

Under cutting first then from the top, makes it all safer and easier.
knudeNoggin - on 10 Dec 2012
In reply to ruttingstag:

Yes, HOW BIG IS THE TREE ?!


(-;
JLS on 12 Dec 2012
In reply to MG:

A couple of slings around each rail should make a good anchor. Just make sure you leave yourself plently of time before the 3:25 train passes by.

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