Thursday, 17 December 2009

Noise: just a nuisance or damaging to your health?

Noise can be a nuisance affecting your concentration and causing you to get annoyed, i.e. noisy neighbours, roadworks or passing vehicles; disrupting your relaxation, reading, watching the television or sleep. However noise, particularly in the work-place, can actually have a severe impact on your health, causing temporary or permanent damage to your hearing. Also, working in high levels of noise can impact general safety, by interfering with communications particularly safety warnings for example fire alarms.

Under the regulations of the HSE Noise Regulations 2005 there is a duty for employers to protect the hearing of their workers.

A risk assessment must be carried out to determine the levels and duration of noise. Action must be taken to reduce the exposure to noise by choosing quieter equipment and machinery, installing noise dampening insulation wherever possible or provide different types of hearing protection.

The noise must be assessed using the following criteria:

• Is the noise intrusive i.e. similar level to a busy street, a vacuum cleaner or a crowded restaurant for most of the working day?
• Do your employees have to raise their voices to carry out conversation when approximately 2 metres apart for at least part of the day?
• Are your employees engaged in using or being in close proximity to noisy powered tools or machinery for more than 30 minutes in a day?
• Is your industry noisy, i.e. construction, demolition, road repair, textiles, engineering, forging, pressing, bottling, canning or paper manufacture?
• Are their impact noises; hammering, drop forging, pneumatic drilling or explosive sources such as cartridge operated tools, detonations or guns?

How is noise measured?

The measurement unit for noise is decibels (dB). An ‘A-weighting’ ‘dB(A)’ is used to measure average noise levels and a ‘C-weighting’ ‘dB(C) measures peak, impact or explosive noises.
A 3dB increase in noise level is generally noticeable but in fact doubles the noise level, therefore relatively small differences in the numbers can be significant.

Typical Noise Levels

Action Levels and Limit Values

Certain actions must be taken when the levels of exposure are averaged over a working day or working week and also the maximum noise (peak sound pressure) to which employees are exposed to in a working day.

There are two values:
• Lower exposure action values
o Daily or weekly exposure of 80dB
o Peak sound pressure of 135dB
• Upper exposure action values
o Daily or weekly exposure of 85dB
o Peak sound pressure of 137dB

There are also levels of noise that must not be exceeded
• Exposure limit values
o Daily or weekly exposure of 87dB
o Peak sound pressure of 140dB

Reducing noise levels

There are ways of reducing noise levels and exposure, redesigning the workplace and the work patterns can be useful.

• Use quieter processes and equipment
o Can you do work in some other quieter way?
o Can you replace whatever is causing the noise with something less noisy?
o Introduce a low-noise purchasing policy for machinery and equipment
• Introduce engineering controls
o Avoid metal on metal impacts e.g. line impact points with rubber or reduce drop heights
o Dampen vibration on machine panels
o Use anti vibration mounts or flexible couplings
o Fit silencers to exhausts and nozzles
• Modify the paths by which noise travels through the air
o Erect enclosures around machines
o Use barriers or screens to block the direct path of sound
o Position noise sources further away from workers
• Design and layout the workplace to reduce noise emission
o Use absorptive materials within the building to reduce sound reflection i.e. open cell foam or mineral wool
o Keep noisy machinery away from quiet areas
o Design the workflow to keep noisy machinery out of highly populated areas
• Limit the time spent in noisy areas
o Halving the time in a noisy area will reduce noise exposure by 3dB
• Maintain the machinery
o Have a planned maintenance schedule
o Replace worn parts immediately

Hearing Protection

If the noise levels cannot be reduced to a level that is acceptable then hearing protection must be issued to employees. Once issued it is mandatory to ensure that they are used properly. Hearing protection zones must be indentified and clearly marked. The employees must be trained and given information on how to use them and care for them.

There are some do’s and don’ts listed below:

• Make sure that the protectors give enough protection – aim to reduce levels to 85dB at the ear
• Target the use of protectors to noisy tasks in a working day
• Select protectors that are suitable for the environment in which they are being used – consider how comfortable and hygienic they are
• Think about how they will be worn and interact with other protective equipment (hard hats, respiratory protection and eye protection
• Provide a range of protectors so that employees have a choice on what is suitable for themselves.

• Provide protectors that cut out too much sound – this can cause isolation or lead to an unwillingness to wear them.
• Make the use of hearing protectors compulsory where the law does not require it.
• Have a blanket approach to the use of hearing protection - it is better to target its use to where it is needed.

There are different items that can be used for hearing protection:

Ear plugs are inserted to block the ear canal. They may be pre-moulded (preformed) or mouldable (foam ear plugs). Ear plugs are sold as disposable products or reusable plugs. Custom moulded ear plugs are also available.

Semi-insert ear plugs which consist of two ear plugs held over the ends of the ear canal by a rigid headband.

Ear muffs consist of sound-attenuating material and soft ear cushions that fit around the ear and hard outer cups. They are held together by a head band.
Different levels of protection are available it is important that you choose the correct level.

All hearing protection should comply to the following EN Standards:

EN352-1 Muffs and Headband
The section of the standard deals with head fasteners and establishes requirements in terms of manufacture, design and performance, test methods, instructions relating to marking and information intended for users.

EN352-2 Plugs and Bands
This part of the standard also deals with individually moulded ear plugs and devices connected by bands

EN352-3 Muffs and Helmet mounted
The present section of the standard stipulates requirements in terms of manufacture, design and performance, test methods, instructions relating to head fastener marking and information intended for head fastener users, when the latter are fixed on protective industrial helmets.

Ranges of hearing protection products including Peltor and Sordin brands are available on the Granite Workwear website under Ear Protection and Forestry Tools and Accessories; they offer various levels of protection covering all uses.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Tree Felling the Safe Way

Basic Felling

This is a short guide to the felling of trees in areas where there is a clear space of at least two tree lengths clearance in all directions and therefore there is no need for pulling aids to ensure that the tree does not drop onto other trees nearby.


Before commencing this task a risk assessment should be carried out and any operator must be appropriately trained in the use of the chainsaw and how to carry out the basic tasks, for more detailed information on this subject please see the article Using a Rear Handled Chainsaw published on 11th November 2009 on the Granite Workwear web site.

Included in this risk assessment should be the prevailing weather conditions, particularly high winds.

Make sure that all the correct tools are available, these may include a breaking bar, a range of sizes of alloy or plastic wedges, a sledgehammer and a hand winch complete with a handle, strops and a cable. Wherever possible plan to minimise any manual handling by the use of the appropriate tools.

It is also important to remember that felling a tree is a one man operation and to ensure that no other operator or machine is within two tree lengths. Survey the site to ensure that there are no underground or overhead services nearby, including electricity, telephone, sewerage, water or gas.

The felling operation

Inspect the tree thoroughly to ensure that there is no dead wood, insecure branches or noticeable signs of decay. Decide on the direction you want the tree to fall and make sure you have a suitable escape route with no obstructions.

Remove any debris from around the base of the tree, and also any obstructing vegetation that may impact on the operation taking particular care that the dispersal of the exhaust fumes from the chainsaw are not restricted.

Remove any low branches ensuring that that you are protected from kickback by keeping the guide bar out of line with your body, also it is useful to use the stem for protection, never use the saw above the height of your shoulders.

Make a sink cut to make a hinge this helps control the rate and direction of fall. A sink cut is a triangular shaped cut with a horizontal base and a 45° angle placed in the direction that you want the tree to fall, it should be the depth of a quarter of the diameter of the tree and the top and bottom cuts must meet exactly with no overcut to damage the strength of the hinge.

Start the felling cut at or very slightly above the level of the bottom sink cut, as you make the cut be careful of the tree moving and trapping the blade. The felling cut must leave a hinge of at least 25 mm at right angles to the direction of fall. If the blade does jam switch the chainsaw off and then pull gently to try and disengage it, if it cannot be freed then use appropriate tools to open the cut slightly.

It is important to remember that once the felling cut has been started then the tree must not be left, the felling must be completed.

Once the felling cut has been completed then use a breaking bar to to lever the tree over, always remember to keep your back straight and use your legs to lift, also keep both hands on the lever.

When the tree starts to fall immediately step back and to the side into your pr-planned escape route always be aware that the butt of tree may rebound as the tree falls.

After the tree has been safely felled you can then commence the snedding operation to remove the limbs that were too high to reach when the tree was standing.

Crown Breakdown

Breaking down the crown of a large tree can be very dangerous, you should always be ready for the tree rolling or for the branches springing back when cut.

To ensure the tree does not roll the use of a properly anchored winch is required. Ensure that you have a clear escape route at all times and plan the work sequence so that this is possible. Ensure that there are no bystanders in close proximity. Never work underneath any part of the felled tree, if it moves you will be crushed.

While working continually assess the tension in the branches, especially those that are in contact with the ground and thereby supporting the main stem.

Cut away the smaller branches first retaining the main supporting branches, again never work above shoulder height. When tackling the larger branches ensure that any debris from your previous cuts has been cleared from the ground to ensure you have a secure footing. Always keep assessing any potential movement of the tree.

If the branches are large cut them down gradually rather than going straight to the stem. Once you have cleared the branches to shoulder height, use the winch to roll the tree in a controlled manner to bring the remaining branches to a safe cutting height. When you have cleared all the branches and the tree is in a stable sate you can de-limb flush to the trunk.

The Granite Workwear Site offers a large range of PPE specifically for forestry work including clothing, footwear, head, eye and ear protection, along with a number of articles similar to this one, if you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask us.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Fall Arrest for Arborists

Falls from height are the single biggest cause of workplace deaths and one of the main causes of major injury, this applies across all industries. By nature of the work, arborists often have to climb to high points and unlike the construction industry often it is difficult or impossible to use working platforms or scaffolding.

Therefore the most practical way of ensuring safety is the use of personal fall protection equipment i.e. a fall arrest harness, for example the Komet Miller Dragonfly and Butterfly II harnesses on the Granite Website in the Forestry Tools & Accessories section.

The regulations applicable to this subject are The Work at Height Regulations 2005 (as amended) obtainable from the Health and Safety Executive.

Fall arrest systems are designed to limit the impact force of a fall and ensure that the user cannot hit the ground. The anchor point must be as high as possible above the feet of the user thereby limiting the distance that they can fall.

Of course the anchor point must be strong enough to hold the impact force of the faller, taking into account the distance and the weight of the person. Always check the condition of the tree and suitability of anchor points before committing life and limb.

There are a number of actions that must be taken when using this type of equipment as explained below.

Risk Assessment

Work at height must be properly planned and organised and should take into account weather conditions, all personnel must have received appropriate training and be competent and healthy.

They should also have read the manufacturers product information literature.

Wherever possible try to minimise the height from which a person can fall and be fully aware of the consequences if they do fall.

All the work must be supervised, never carried out alone.

Selection and maintenance of equipment

The equipment being used must be suitable for the task being carried out, within the design limits. It must comply with BS EN 361 for a full body harness. All components being used must be compatible with each other.

All equipment must be checked even when new and then before each use to ensure that it operates correctly and that it is in good condition. The checks should be both tactile and visual, passing the equipment slowly through the hands to feel for cuts, abrasion or any contaminants as well as softening or hardening of the fibres. Ensure that the visual checks are carried out in good light conditions, also do not hurry these checks, your life may depend on it...

In addition to the pre-use checks a more comprehensive check should be carried out by a trained and competent person on a regular schedule and these checks should be documented. Particular attention is required where the equipment can come into contact with acids or alkalis.

Any damaged equipment must be taken out of operation immediately, even small cuts or abrasions will have a serious effect on the performance.

If the equipment has become wet in use it must be dried thoroughly before storing it in clean dry conditions.

Action to be taken in case of a fall

This topic was covered in the article Aerial Tree Rescue published on 9th November 2009 but we feel that it is important to bring attention to the risk of Suspension Trauma which is little understood by most people even though it has been known about for quite a few years.

It is a natural reaction in the body to being held in an upright position with immobilised legs. Normally the use of leg muscles helps to return blood to the heart, if the legs are immobilised which would be the case in using a fall arrest harness, this process starts to fail and blood starts to pool in the legs, this causes the brain to receive less blood and starts to be starved of oxygen. Loss of consciousness can occur in less than 6 minutes. Research has suggested that death can occur in as little as 10 minutes. If the fall has been caused by a trauma like a bad cut or a head injury then this timescale can be more rapid.

Suspension is therefore a life threatening situation and urgent rescue is needed within 10 minutes. However when the accident victim is rescued certain things have to be considered.The blood that has pooled in the legs contains toxins, which if released into the circulation could damage internal organs and in extreme cases stop the heart from beating. This is known as Reflow Syndrome and traditional first aid techniques could be fatal in this case. Casualties must not be laid flat at any time in the rescue or when on the ground. The casualty should be kept in a sitting position with their legs either straight out or pulled up to the chest for a minimum of half an hour even if they are unconscious.

It is important that all workers know of the dangers of the risks of Suspension Trauma and the correct techniques for handling it, anybody who has been suspended for more that 3 minutes should be treated as if they have it.

Of course prevention is always better than cure and all measures to reduce the risk of falling should be employed wherever possible, including regular breaks to reduce fatigue and the use of the correct protective clothing to reduce heat stress.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

How to use a chipper safely

Chippers can be extremely dangerous machines if not used correctly, it is absolutely essential that anybody using a chipper has the correct training in how to operate the machine.

Initial checks and operations

Before working with the machine, it must be checked that it has been properly changed over from its transportation mode. Ensure that all guards for belts, pulleys, shafts and any other moving parts are secure and there is no damage.

All new machines supplied after 26 June 2005 should comply with BS EN 13525: 2005, older chippers should have been retro-fitted with an infeed protection device supplied by the manufacturers as agreed with the HSE from 31st October 2000. Generally the operators should be protected from contact with the infeed rollers by a combination of reach-distance guarding and a protection device that stops the rollers when moved. For more detailed information see HSE leaflet AIS38.

Ensure that any lock for the chipping components has been disengaged and that the infeed hopper is clear of any materials. Noise warning signs must be in place.

If the machine is driven by a power take-off shaft (PTO) make sure that the shaft is fitted with a guard that complies to EN 1152 and that it fully encloses the shaft along its entire length between the machine and the tractor and that it is in full working order. Another thing to consider is that the PTO speed is within the required range for the machine.

The surface that the machine will be working on has to be as firm as possible and the machine must be stabilised effectively. There must be adequate ventilation and any exhaust fumes are vented into the open air if working in an enclosed space.

Ensure that all access points to the work area have been signed indicating that it is a hazardous site and that unauthorised access is forbidden. If necessary safety barriers should be erected and personnel assigned to keep people away.

PPE requirements

The following equipment must be supplied and used:
• Safety Helmet complying with EN 397
• Eye protection either a mesh visor complying with EN 1731 or safety glasses complying with EN 166
• Hearing protection complying with EN 352 note that chippers have a higher decibel range than chainsaws we recommend the Sordin EXC 31SNR or Optime II or Optime III Ear Defenders found on our website under Forestry Equipment Tools or Ear Protection for this purpose.
• Gloves
Safety boots with a good gripping sole and ankle support complying with EN 345-1
• Non-snag outer clothing appropriate to the weather conditions, high-visibility clothing complying with EN 471 should be worn where the risk assessment identifies the need, if working on railways it will also need to comply with GO/RT standards you can find these items on our website under Forestry Clothing or Hi Viz.
• A personal first-kit including a large wound dressing as a minimum, we also recommend carrying a pouch of Celox which is a haemostatic granule which when poured into a bleeding wound, links to the red blood cells promoting rapid coagulation, again, on the website under Forestry / Tools & Accessories.

Operating the Machine

Make sure that the cuffs of gloves are close fitting or tucked into the sleeves of your shirt or jacket. This stops them becoming caught on the material being fed into the chipper. Set the engine speed to the optimum performance level.

Check that the material you are going to chip is free of any stone, metal or other foreign bodies.
Do not stand directly in front of the infeed rollers as material may be ejected. Let go of the material as soon as it is taken into the infeed rollers or chipping components, if there are short pieces to be chipped use a push stick at least 150 cm long to feed the material in.

Never put any part of your body into the infeed hopper while the machine is running. If there are any blockages follow the manufacturer’s instructions for clearing them.

Keep the area of ground around the machine and particularly in front of the infeed hopper clear of any debris to prevent any tripping hazard.

When leaving the machine unattended or whilst undertaking any maintenance, remove the engine start key.


Stop the engine and let it cool, ensure that there is no source of ignition nearby. Use a container with a non drip spout, that is clearly labelled and is suitable for the storage of petrol or diesel.
Ensure that the fuel is stored safely away from direct sunlight and any possible sources of ignition.

Ensure that fuel does not contact the skin or eyes, if there is contact then wash the skin, in the case of contact with the eyes wash out with sterile water immediately and get medical advice as soon as possible.


Always make sure that maintenance is carried out in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Check for wear on the chipping components and knives; always ensure you wear gloves when handling the knives. Before removing any guards or covers or reaching into the infeed hopper, make sure that the engine is switched off, the start key removed and that all moving parts are stationary.

Any knives that are damaged or blunt must be changed or reversed and when worn down to the minimum size specified by the manufacturer they must be scrapped. When new or sharpened knives are fitted, ensure that there is the recommended minimum clearance between the knives and the anvil.

Moving the machine

Make sure that the chipping components are locked and that the start key is removed, secure the infeed hopper and the discharge chute into the transport position. Check the towing bracket then attach to the towing hitch and raise the jockey wheel and secure it. Connect the electrics and safety chain to the towing vehicle and ensure that the load is safe and that there are no people nearby before moving off.

Safe chipping!

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

All employers have a duty to provide PPE under the requirements of the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992.

The definition of PPE is ‘all equipment (including clothing affording protection against the weather) which is intended to be worn or held by a person at work and which protects them against one or more risks to their health and safety’. This includes safety helmets, gloves, eye protection, high visibility clothing, safety footwear, and safety harnesses.

Other regulations cover hearing and respiratory protection, but these need to be compatible with any other PPE provided, so that they do not have a negative impact on each other.

Under the regulations not only does the employer have to supply these items but also has a duty to ensure that they are used correctly and at all times where there are risks to health and safety.

The employer has to assess the equipment provided to ensure that it is suitable for the task and that it is maintained and stored properly.

It is also their duty to ensure that the users are supplied with instructions for use and that these instructions are correctly carried out by the user. Make sure that all users are aware of why it is needed, when it has to be used, the need for keeping it in good repair and that they understand it has to be used at all times where there are risks.

This does not only apply to employees but also to visitors to the site, for example eye protection, safety helmets and high visibility clothing are mandatory for visitors where the work area demands this protection.

This provision of PPE can incur a considerable cost to a company, but the employees cannot be charged for this. If an employee leaves the company and does not return the equipment then to reclaim the cost from the employee it has to be written into the Contract of Employment that this deduction will be made from any wages owed by the company.

Make sure that replacement PPE is readily available, either in stock or you have a supplier that can deliver replacements speedily. If the equipment is lost or damaged then the employee cannot continue to work in that area.

Assessment of suitability

Careful consideration has to be made of the particular hazards in the workplace and the types of PPE that will be required for each one to enable the worker to do the job safely.
It is often useful to ask the supplier which is the best for the particular situation. In some cases it may be that you will need to contact specialists.

Granite Workwear Ltd. has a comprehensive range of suitable PPE on the web site and can always offer advice when needed as to the appropriate equipment for your needs.

There are a number of factors to be taken into account during this assessment:

• Is it appropriate for risks and conditions that could possibly occur? Eye protection that is suitable to eliminate risk of dust getting in the eye will be unlikely to protect against metal or stone fragments and eye protection that is suitable for may not be adequate for use by welders to protect from flash.
• Does the item cause other issues that affect negatively on the overall levels of risk? For example does the PPE cause a negative effect on the build up of heat in the user’s body (heat stress)? If this is the case extended breaks may be required to allow recovery time.
• Can the item be adjusted to fit each individual user without affecting the protection?
• Are there any health issues with the wearer that may affect the use of the equipment?
• Does the use of the equipment required work well in combination? For example does the helmet allow for proper use of ear defenders or does a respirator allow the proper fitting of eye protection?

Hazards and equipment to be assessed

Hazards; chemical splash, dust, chippings, metal fragments or splash, gas or vapour, radiation
Equipment; Safety spectacles, goggles, face shields, visors.

Hazards: vapours, gasses, dust.
Equipment; disposable filtering masks, respirators (half and full face), breathing apparatus.

Hazards; impact from flying or falling objects, head bumping, hair entanglement
Equipment; Helmets, hairnets

Hazards; high or low temperature, weather, chemicals, cuts, impact or penetration, dust, entanglement, static discharge
Equipment; disposable overalls, boiler suits or bib and brace, chainsaw protective clothing, chain mail aprons, waterproofs, thermal garments, flame retardant clothing, anti-static.

Hands and Arms:
Hazards; cuts, abrasion, high and low temperature, vibration, impact, chemicals, electric shock, infection
Equipment; gloves, gauntlets, arm guards, wrist guards, mittens.

Feet and Legs:
Hazards; liquids, temperature, slipping, cuts and punctures, falling objects, chemical and metal splash, abrasion, static discharge
Equipment; Safety boots and shoes with toe and midsole protection, rubber boots, gaiters, leggings, spats

Ensure that any PPE you buy is marked with the ‘CE’ symbol and that it complies with appropriate EN Standards for the use it is intended.

A company must by law have the proper PPE for their employees, but it is not just a case of complying with the legal obligations. The disruption to business caused by absenteeism because of accidents is incalculable, as is the loss of productivity if employees are unhappy with their working conditions. Involve them in PPE selection, make sure they have an input and there will be few problems making them use it. Use the right quality and the employees will feel valued.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Using a rear handled chainsaw

The use of petrol driven chainsaws can be very dangerous if the operator is not trained and practised in its use. We have put together some information on using a chainsaw to help people to understand how one should be handled and some of the regulations that have to be followed.

Firstly there are two types of chainsaw, rear handled and top handled. Top handled chainsaws can only be used when working off the ground i.e. climbing or working on a mobile elevating platform. We will be presenting information on the use of the top handled chainsaw in a later article.

So the use of rear handled chainsaws is for groundwork i.e. felling, clearing of windblow, snedding (removal of small branches from a felled tree) and sectioning of trunks and large branches.

All chainsaw users must be aware of the weather conditions that they are working in and also the dangers of being cut by a saw, hit by falling timber, vibration and noise.

Therefore the first area we will look at is the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that is required. It should be understood that no PPE can actually protect you 100% against cuts and therefore it is important to remember this and not just rely on the protection but ensure that you are minimising any risk by the application of common-sense and good practice learned during training and from experience.

Items of Equipment:

Leg Protection: The trousers or leggings should incorporate chain clogging material complying with EN 381-5 Class1 you will find these on the Granite Workwear site under Forestry Clothing, we stock a number of items from the SIP range including Hi Vis in both Orange to GO/RT 3279 for use on or near railways and also Yellow, both colours comply with EN 471 class 2.

Outer clothing: These items should be non-snag and in certain cases Hi Vis, the jackets may or may not have cut protection, although that is advisable.

Safety Helmet: this must comply with EN 397 these can be found under Forestry Tools & Accessories.

Eye Protection: this can be either a mesh visor complying with EN 1731 or safety glasses complying with EN 166.

Hearing Protection: This protection must comply with EN 352; the best way is to use helmet mounted ear defenders for example the Sordin or Peltor products found on the Granite Workwear site.

Gloves: The type of glove required will be dependent on the Risk Assessment and the type of machine being used. Areas to be considered are; protection from cuts from the chainsaw or thorny material cold or wet conditions as well as vibration. For protection against chainsaw cuts the gloves should comply with EN 381-7, for example the Timberland Protimber L available on the Granite Workwear site.

Protective Boots: These must have a good grip sole and also protection in the front vamp and instep complying with EN 20345. We recommend the Haix range to be found under Forestry Footwear on the site.

First Aid Kit: Each person must have a first aid kit on them to include a large wound dressing; we also recommend carrying a pouch of Celox which is a haemostatic granule which when poured into a bleeding wound, links to the red blood cells promoting rapid coagulation.

Machine Checks

The machine should be checked for the following before use:
  • The stop switch is clearly marked and works.
  • The front hand guard, chain brake, chain catcher and anti-vibration mounts are all undamaged and working.
  • The throttle opens only when the throttle lock is depressed.
  • The saw is fitted with a chain type recommended by the manufacturer and is designed to reduce kickback.
  • The exhaust system and silencer are in a good state of repair.
  • The saw displays the mandatory hearing protection symbol.
  • The equipment is available for sharpening, maintenance and adjustments and a chain cover for use during transportation.
Preparing for work

Operators should not work alone, a risk assessment has been carried out and any significant points are recorded. All personnel involved in the worksite are aware of and comply with the controls in place.

Ensure that a safe method of work has been agreed including a 5 metre distance is maintained between workers and any ancillary equipment.

Ensure that everybody understands the information needed to contact the Emergency Services including directions to the site and access information. Also ensure that the appropriate signage is in place to warn that this is a hazardous worksite.

Ensure that fuel is stored in appropriate containers with non-spill spouts and that it is stored away from direct sunlight and any possible source of ignition. Do not start the chainsaw within 4 metres of the refuelling point.

Starting the Saw

Make sure you are a safe distance from other people and that the saw is clear of obstructions.

When starting from cold, put the saw on the ground and set the controls following the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Place one foot on the rear handle and your left hand on the front handle, then pull the starter cord firmly.

From hot the safest way is using a ground start but without using the choke or the half throttle stop controls, however you can use a thigh or knee start; grip the rear handle firmly between the knees grip the front handle with your left hand and then pull the starter cord firmly.

Using the Saw

The saw must be used with the right hand on the rear handle; the thumb of the left hand must be under the front handle.

Check that the chain brake works correctly, use the chain brake when walking on the site or if the saw is not being used for more than 15 seconds. The brake should be applied with the back of the left wrist.

Stop the saw if it is not in use for longer periods.

Be wary of kickback, this is where there is uncontrolled upward and or backward motion of the guide bar. It is usually caused when the nose of the guide bar comes in contact with a log or branch, when the wood being cut pinches the saw chain while cutting, or when the chain catches a piece of metal that may have been ‘buried’ in the wood such as a nail.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Aerial Tree Rescue

Aerial Tree Rescue

Hopefully if the operators adhere to the safe working practices outlined in “Tree Climbing the Safe Way” which we published on 29th October 2009, there will be few occasions when there would be need to undertake Aerial Tree Rescue. However we would like to give some information on how this should be carried out.

Immediate Actions

Everyone involved in Aerial Tree Rescue must have had appropriate training, the most important thing to be aware of is that the rescuer’s safety has to be the immediate priority, there is no sense in ending up with two casualties.

When an injured climber needs to be rescued, immediately make sure that any other members of the work team and anybody who might enter the site are all safe and are not in the area where the rescue is taking place.

One of the most important things to ensure is that there are no overhead cables involved, if the correct procedures for planning the climbing have been carried out then they should not be, however mistakes can happen. If cables are involved then the relevant electricity company must be contacted before doing anything.

It is critical that the casualty’s condition is assessed and the appropriate emergency services contacted, so that they can be getting to the site whilst the rescue is under way. Ensure that they have all the relevant information; location, access problems if any, name of casualty and any known relevant medical history, time of the accident and if any chemicals are involved.


Certain equipment must always be available at the worksite; some of these items are to be found in Forestry Tools & Accessories on the Granite Workwear web site.

First Aid Kit; this should be as comprehensive as possible not just the basic minimum required under the HSE regulations, for example it is useful to have Celox which is a haemostatic granule which when poured into a bleeding wound, links to the red blood cells promoting rapid coagulation.

Climbing Equipment; a suitable harness, ropes, karabiners, strops and any other equipment that the rescuer has experience of and training in, to assist in climbing safely. Other items would be ladders, climbing irons, ascenders and decenders.

Knife; a sharp knife with a retractable blade that will be able to quickly cut ropes or snagged clothing. However care must be taken when cutting tensioned ropes as this can cause injury to the casualty or the rescuer. Of course it is essential to be careful not to cut the wrong rope and also be careful not to cause cut injuries.

If in the course of the rescue there is a need for further equipment that is not immediately available then this must be sent for, communication should be available at all times by mobile phone or two way radio.


Keep up communication with the casualty if they are conscious, offering reassurance and encourage them to help themselves to get more comfortable if it is appropriate or possible.

Climbing to the Casualty

Choose the most efficient method of climbing to reach the casualty as quickly as possible but also safely. Use whatever climbing aids that you have available and that are appropriate.
Look for hazards for example broken, severed or hanging branches and also the casualty’s equipment that may create risks.

Assess the tree or trees and select the appropriate equipment to remove the parts that may impede a quick and safe rescue. If available use other trained operators to assist in this, but be mindful of not getting in each other’s way.

When you have reached the casualty make an immediate but thorough assessment of immediate needs for first-aid treatment and making them safe.

If there are indications of fractures, crush injuries and most importantly possible spinal injury, if possible wait for medical supervision from a paramedic or doctor.


Maintain close contact with the casualty and monitor any changes in their condition, reassure them and control them if necessary.

Remain securely anchored at all times; it is important not to put your own safety at risk. Make sure that your anchor points are capable of taking not only the load of yourself but of the casualty too.

When bringing down the casualty, it is essential to ensure that you and the casualty descend together to ease their movement through the branches and also enable you to monitor their condition constantly.

Stay with the casualty until he has been safely transported from the site by the paramedics.

After the Incident

Ensure that all personnel have left the site and that it is safe and secure. Take names and contact details of witnesses before they leave.

It is a good idea to take pictures of the site, using a digital camera or mobile phone noting the date and time.

In no circumstances use any of the equipment that has been involved in the accident until it has been thoroughly checked by a competent person.

Notify management of the incident and clearly record all details in the accident register, before reporting the incident to the HSE in accordance with the rules of the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR).

Friday, 30 October 2009

Hand Arm Vibration

What is hand-arm vibration?

Hand-arm vibration is vibration transmitted from work processes into workers’ hands and arms. It can be caused by operating hand-held power tools, such as chainsaws, strimmers, and hand-guided equipment, such as powered lawnmowers, or by holding materials being processed by machines. The use of this equipment comes under the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005.

When is it hazardous?

Frequent exposure to hand-arm vibration can cause permanent health effects. This is most likely when contact with a vibrating tool or work process is a regular part of a person’s job, occasional exposure is unlikely to cause ill health.

Health Effects

Hand-arm vibration can cause a range of conditions collectively known as hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS), as well as specific diseases such as carpal tunnel syndrome.


Identifying signs and symptoms at an early stage is important as this will allow you to take action to prevent the health effects from becoming serious.

The symptoms include any combination of:

• tingling and numbness in the fingers
• not being able to feel things properly
• loss of strength in the hands
• the fingers going white and red and painful on recovery, particularly when cold and wet

For some people, symptoms may appear after only a few months of exposure, but for others they may take a few years. They are likely to get worse with continued exposure to vibration and may become permanent.

What effects do these symptoms have?

The effects on people include:

• pain, distress and sleep disturbance.
• inability to do fine work (e.g. assembling small components) or everyday tasks (e.g. fastening buttons).
• reduced ability to work in cold or damp conditions.
• reduced grip strength which might affect the ability to do work safely.

They can severely limit the jobs an affected person is able to do, as well as many family and social activities.

Assess the risks

You should assess whether there is likely to be a significant risk from hand-arm vibration and which operations involve regular exposure to vibration. See if there are any warnings of vibration risks in equipment handbooks; ask employees if they have any of the HAVS symptoms described above and whether the equipment being used produces high levels of vibration or uncomfortable strains on hands and arms.

The person who does the risk assessment should have read and understood the HSE information, have a good knowledge of the work processes used at work and be able to collect and understand relevant information.

A plan of action based on assessment should be drawn up and put into effect:

• make a list of equipment that may cause vibration, and what sort of work it is used for.
• collect information about the equipment from equipment handbooks (make, model, power, vibration risks, vibration information etc).
• make a list of users of vibrating equipment and which jobs they do.
• note as accurately as possible how long users’ hands are actually in contact with the equipment while it is vibrating, in some cases this may only be a few minutes in several hours of work with the equipment.
• ask users which equipment seems to have high vibration and about any other problems they may have in using it, e.g. its weight, awkward postures needed to use the tool, difficulty in holding and operating it.


Group your work activities according to whether they are high, medium or low risk and then plan your action to control risks for the users at greatest risk first.

High risk

Users who regularly operate: vibrating tools for more than one hour per day; or some rotary and other action tools for more than about four hours per day. Users in this group are likely to be above the exposure limit value set out in the Regulations. The limit value could be exceeded in a much shorter time in some cases, especially where the tools are not the most suitable for the job.

Medium risk

Users who regularly operate: vibrating tools for more than about 15 minutes per day; or some rotary and other action tools for more than about one hour per day. Users in this group are likely to be exposed above the exposure limit value set out in the Regulations.

Machinery manufacturers are obliged to include information on vibration levels in their manuals, however be aware that this will have been carried out in “ideal conditions” and may have no correlation with the conditions that you will be using the equipment in.

Control the risks

When you have identified who is at risk, you need to decide how you can reduce the risks. You must do all that is reasonable to control the risk.

Equipment selection

Make sure that equipment selected or allocated for tasks is suitable and can do the work efficiently. Equipment that is unsuitable, too small or not powerful enough is likely to take much longer to complete the task and expose employees to vibration for longer than is necessary. Select the lowest vibration tool that is suitable and can do the work efficiently.

Equipment is likely to be replaced over time as it becomes worn out, and it is important that you choose replacements, which are suitable for the work, efficient and of lower vibration.


Introduce appropriate maintenance programmes for your equipment to prevent avoidable increases in vibration (following the manufacturer’s recommendations where appropriate).

Example: Check and sharpen chainsaw teeth regularly (following the manufacturer’s recommendations) to maintain the chainsaw’s efficiency and to reduce the time it takes to complete the work.

Work schedules

Plan working schedules to avoid individuals being exposed to vibration for long, continuous periods – several shorter periods are preferable.

Where tools require continual or frequent use, introduce rotas to limit exposure times (you should avoid users being exposed for periods which are long enough to put them in the high risk category).

Good Practice

Ensure that all users of equipment are aware of and implement:

• changes to working practices to reduce vibration exposure;
• correct selection, use and maintenance of equipment;
• correct techniques for equipment use, how to reduce grip force etc.
• maintenance of good blood circulation at work by keeping warm and massaging fingers and, if possible, cutting down on smoking.


Provide your employees with protective clothing when necessary to keep them warm and dry. This will encourage good blood circulation which can help protect them from developing vibration white finger; on the Granite site you will find an extensive range of garments under Forestry Clothing.

Gloves can be used to keep hands warm and some are able to reduce but not eliminate vibration. On the Granite site you will find a range of gloves from Timberland including the Timberland Vibstop 1 Glove.

Tree Climbing the Safe Way

Climbing trees is by nature a hazardous job, but certain common sense precautions can ensure that the risks are kept to a minimum.

Tree climbing work is subject to the Working at Height Regulations 2005 and certain rules have to be observed.

Risks and proper precautions

The first task is to carry out a risk assessment to determine whether climbing is the appropriate method of carrying out the work; it may be that in fact access can be made by using a hydraulic lift commonly known as a “Cherry Picker”; use of one of these also has certain regulations and requires a trained operator.

There are some main points that must be remembered and implemented.

· All the work to be carried out at height must be properly planned, organised and most importantly supervised.

· Equipment to be used must be suitable for the task and inspected before use to ensure that it is in good condition.

· All persons involved must be competent and have had appropriate training in all the tasks being carried out.

A proper risk assessment must be carried out for the site as a whole and should include the following points:

· There must be a written emergency plan.

· All risks must be assessed accurately including proximity to hazards e.g. power lines.

· All of the people involved on the worksite must be aware of the controls in place.

· All of the workforce must comply with the identified controls.

A minimum of two people must be present the whole time that tree climbing is in operation, one of which must be on the ground and has to be trained in aerial rescue and have all the necessary equipment available, so that a rescue can be performed without delay.

All people on the site must be able to communicate with each other easily and there should be a means of communication with responsible persons off site and with the Emergency Services, e.g. by mobile phone. In particularly noisy areas it is recommended that two way radios should be used.

All the people involved should have contributed to the risk assessment and job planning and must be free to raise points of concern and have the authority to stop work if they have concerns over safety issues that arise.

Pre-planning considerations

It is essential that in the case of emergency that the location is known, in the case of rural areas grid reference and the type of access available, in the case of urban areas street names and post codes are needed.

On all access points to the area where the climbing is taking place warning and prohibition signs conforming to the Health & Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996, indicating a hazardous work site with unauthorised access prohibited must be displayed. In certain areas where public access is likely the use of barrier tape, barriers or extra personnel to act as safety marshals may be required.

Fitness is important, climbing and then working may put personnel under unusual skeletal and muscular strain, and so it is essential to warm up and stretch before commencing the climb. Where possible share the climbing work between two or more climbers to give adequate rest periods. In hot weather it may be necessary to increase the number of breaks and also look at different climbing techniques.

Climbers also have to be aware of the different characteristics of tree species and the effect on the methods to be used. Particular care must be taken to assess the structure and condition of the tree and look particularly for any evidence of decay and damage.


For work off ground the helmet should be compliant to BS EN 12492 with both crown and side protection, the Arborsafe TH/1 helmet in our Granite Workwear range is ideal for this. Eye protection should comply with BS EN 166 for example the Bolle and Peltor ranges on the Granite Workwear site in the Safety Glasses section. Hearing protection should comply with BS EN 352. Suitable gloves should be worn depending on the conditions.

Of course it is also essential to have protective clothing to protect from chainsaw cuts. We have a range of products from SIP Protection to suit all needs; particularly the newer developments like the Freedom Trouser 1SRN that offer excellent protection particularly round the back of the lower leg but with lighter weight to give improved flexibility for climbing and reduce the problems of heat exhaustion.

Medical supplies

A first aid kit should always be available, but in addition to basic kit, which complies with regulations but is as it says BASIC; we recommend that each operative should have in their possession a pouch of Celox, there should also be one of these stored in the vehicle.

Celox is a British product and is a haemostatic granule which when poured into a bleeding wound, links to the red blood cells promoting rapid coagulation. In controlled tests, it was found to stop most bleeding within 30 seconds and to stop severe arterial bleeding in minutes. The sachet can be opened one handed so that the granules can be self administered.

In battlefield trials Celox achieved a 100% survival rate. It works in hypothermic conditions and also clots blood containing thinning agents such as Heparin and Warfarin. Celox does not generate heat and wont burn the patient or first aider. It is safe to use in all parts of the body including head and neck wounds. Simply pour granules into the wound and apply pressure. No specific training is needed and this will save lives.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Respiratory Masks - which one to choose?

Granite have recently included a range of Venitex Respiratory Masks on our site, these offer three levels of protection so we would like to ensure that customers understand what the levels mean and what each level protects from, so that you can select the correct one for your use.

The main Standard is EN 149:2001 and all our masks come with the CE mark to show they conform to this.

There are three levels of protection FFP1, FFP2, FFP3.

FFP1 Respirator

These protect the wearer against both solid and liquid aerosols. The level of protection given is against non-toxic contaminants in concentrations up to 4 X OEL (Occupational Exposure Limit) or 4 X APF (Assigned Protection Factor)

Ideal use is to protect operators working on hand sanding, cutting and drilling.

FFP2 Respirator

These protect the wearer against both solid and liquid aerosols. The level of protection is against low to average toxicity contaminants in concentrations up to 12 X OEL or 10 X APF

Ideal for protection against plaster, cement, sanding and wood dust.

FFP3 Respirator

These protect the wearer against higher levels of fine dust and oil/water based mists containing high toxicity contaminants. The level of protection is up to 50 OEL or 20 APF.

These are ideal for use with paints, pharmaceutical powders, biological agents and fibres.

Dolomite Test

The Dolomite test is an optional test under EN 149:2001, respirators which pass the dolomite clogging test are proved to provide more comfortable breathing while wearing respirators. This is obviously beneficial when wearing masks for protracted periods.

Granite has one mask in each of the FFP categories.


Masks can come with or without valves. Many people prefer valves as they let out the exhaled air thus reducing exhalation effort, stay cooler, are less likely to mist up eyewear and stay comfortable for longer.

Non-valve masks tend to be slightly cheaper and do prevent the wearer from contaminating their environment.

The majority of the masks in our range have valves but we do offer an FFP2 mask without a valve if that is required.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Flame Retardant Garments

When flame retardant workwear is mentioned the perception of many people is that the only people needing these garments are fire-fighters and motor sport participants. However there are many more workers who have the need for this type of Personal Protective Equipment including.

• Electricians
• Foundry Workers
• Workers in Petrochemical installations on shore and off shore
• Welders
• Other emergency services, Police, Ambulance etc

You may be faced with a bewildering array of garment and fabric choices. But before any decisions can be made, you need to know which fabrics and garments are in compliance with your needs. And that means knowing exactly what compliance means, what the performance specifications are, and how they are determined.

In the EU the standards are as below

EN 470 – 1: Protective clothing during welding or similar operations
The clothing is intended to protect the user against small splashes of molten metal (EN348), short contact time with flame (EN532), and ultra violet radiation, and to be worn continuously for up to 8 hours at ambient temperature

EN531: Protection against heat and flame
The standard specifies the performance requirements for protective clothing for workers exposed to heat. Limited flame spread (A) (Pass/Fail) is tested in accordance with a test method defined by EN 532. To pass the EN 531 requirements the clothing must also protect against at least one form of heat. The heat may be in the form of convective heat B (level B1-B5) according to EN 367, radiant heat C (level C1-C4) according to EN 366, molten aluminium splash (D) according to EN 373, molten iron splash (E) according to EN 373. HH products subjected to EN 531 are tested on radiant- and convective heat.

EN533: Protection against heat and flame
Protection against heat and flame; the standard specifies the performance requirements for the limited flame spread properties of materials and material assemblies used in protective clothing. The material(s) is classified in accordance with an index for limitation of flame spread (X) before and after a standard washing procedure (Y).
• X/Y Flame spread index, index 1, 2 or 3.
• Y Number of washes at a given temperature.
If the index is 1 (lowest level) the garment can only be used outside a garment with index 2 or 3.
If you have any doubt regarding what standard should be used for you or your employees’ then professional advice should be taken.

Also to be taken into account is whether the garment is made from an inherently Flame Retardant yarn or whether it has only been treated with a flame retardant finish. This can have an effect on the longevity of the flame retardant properties.

At in line with our policy to offer the best products available for all customers, we have recently included Hi Viz FR garments from Pulsar in our range and we will be adding more items including overalls, shirts, headwear and socks in the very near future, several of these will also feature antistatic and thermal properties particularly suited to the petrochemical and gas industries.

Friday, 27 March 2009

Eye Protection a Must

Thousands of eye injuries occur every year in the UK ranging from minor, which may result in a few days off work, to major, resulting in the loss of an eye.
The use of proper eyewear, guards against flying particles, chemicals, burns and with the cost of compensation for the loss of sight in one eye averaging £100,000 and the loss of working days in lesser cases there is an obvious cost if the right equipment is not used.

However it is not just about cost; the welfare of workers should be uppermost in employers’ minds. In the case of individuals who are performing DIY or sports they should be thinking about the impact on their and their family’s lives of damaging their eyes.The Health and Safety Executive make it clear that companies have a legal duty of care to train and protect their employees and visitors against occupational risk. It is their responsibility to ensure that the proper PPE eyewear is used at all times. It used to be that only people actually involved in the use of tools or operating machinery had to wear eye protection, now anybody passing through a work area or construction site has to be protected.
Often the employees do not like to wear PPE items and in particular eyewear, as they find it restricting and uncomfortable but suppliers are conscious of this and are developing new products that are comfortable and fit properly so that maximum protection is afforded.

Particularly in the case of eyewear, fit is essential and the cost and logistics of stocking many different sizes at a company has now been addressed by the production of adjustable eyewear that fits a number of sizes and shapes of face. The eyewear is also much lighter and gives distortion free vision. There have also been big advances in non-mist and scratch resistance and many offer various levels of UV protection along with polarisation to cut glare particularly when working near water. In the past one of the reasons that people did not like to wear safety eyewear was that it looked unfashionable, this has now changed with the design of trendy and sporty looking products often following high-street fashion trends.

At Granite Workwear you will find a comprehensive range of eye protection items. Even the Peltor Maxim Air Seal which can double as goggles or the more traditional glasses but with the eye completely sealed. These come with three interchangeable ballistic lenses, smoke for high light levels, yellow for low light levels and clear.

We are finding that they are being used by a very diverse range of customers from people who are susceptible to eye infections to drivers of vintage vehicles. A bee in your eye at 70mph must be a very alarming experience!