When you think of kickbacks, you might think of cash being secretly and illegally paid to someone in exchange for their help. In my line of work – conservation and land management – the term relates to the sudden, upward motion of a chainsaw, which is one of the most common causes of chainsaw accidents. So it’s good to be trained.
Yes, of course you can just go to your local hardware store and buy a chainsaw and start working, but safeguarding the health and safety of our staff and volunteers is a critical factor in Bush Heritage’s planning and culture.
And given that we work in such isolated and remote locations (where the nearest hospital is often hours away) the correct use of such equipment is even more paramount.
So during early March, staff from Hamelin, Eurardy and Charles Darwin reserves all teamed-up to learn more about the safe use of chainsaws (as well as working at heights) at the Central Regional TAFE College in Geraldton.
First up on the training agenda was personal protective equipment (PPE). Any time anyone is operating a chainsaw they really need to be wearing the right eye protection, ear protection, boots, long pants, long sleeve shirt, gloves, and chainsaw chaps – which I must say aren’t as attractive as the Village People made me believe.
After learning about the parts of the chainsaw and how to correctly maintain the machine, things really started to rev up – literally. Starting up a chainsaw cold can often be a bit tricky – especially with other people watching – but after a few instructions we were all accomplished rev heads.
Now I won’t be cutting down any trees anytime soon, but I do now feel confident to use the chainsaw to clear fallen branches off tracks, and other similar tasks that need to be done around the reserve.
When it came to working at heights, the PPE theme continued, as we started the training by strapping ourselves into our safety harnesses.
Did you know that safety harnesses have a 10-year lifespan from the date of manufacture, which must be written on the PPE's compliance label along with the date of destroy?
Now ladders are great for access but not to safely work from, so the solution is scaffolding. Which I must admit is fun to build and reminded me of a well spent childhood building Lego.
At the end of the course the team all agreed that proper maintenance of all equipment, along with effective communication with your work buddy is key to optimum, injury-free use.
There were no kickbacks of course, but a big thanks to the staff at Central Regional TAFE for customising this course to our needs and fitting in with our busy schedules.
And I’m sorry if this technical blog has too many buzzwords!