The slippery season is here. We are in the time of year when ground conditions change due to leaves, walnuts, frost, rain, ice, and yes, snow.

As a result, ground conditions might be deceiving when walking: 

  • Walking and working surfaces can have slick spots even though they look clear. 
  • Snow or grassy terrain may hide dips, holes and other slip hazards.
  • Walnuts can roll under your feet and put you on your back.

So it's important that you wear work boots with adequate tread so you can have surer footing on the job site. Here's what else you can do to avoid falls and injuries this winter.

Scrape or allow adequate defrost time on windows before operating equipment. Allow the defroster to warm up and melt the ice, rather than just scraping, before driving over-the-road equipment. If you only scrape, the windows might ice over again resulting in poor visibility.

Remember to use the 3-points of contact when climbing up, down, and around on equipment. Do not give your full trust in anti-slip surfaces as they may not work in these conditions. 

Equipment may not work properly or as expected when cold. Make sure your aerial lift unit and its bucket control are in good working order. 

Chainsaws will act sluggish if not warmed up. Several of the chainsaws that we use have a Summer and Winter setting to improve performance. If you’re unsure of how your saw is set, please ask your supervisor.

Trimming certain trees that are frozen is a lot different than trimming them in summer. Be aware of these types and how they might react differently. 

Using proper signage is important so that adequate response time is given to drivers when road conditions are poor. Make sure all work zones are set up properly.  

We need to take time to do a thorough hazard assessment at all times, but there is an added dimension to it when winter comes. Remembering the basics is vital to safe performance!

Posted: 1/5/2018 2:22:28 PM by Townsend Corporation

Winter is here and the temperatures are dropping. Our experienced crew members already know what they need to do to keep warm, but if you're new to tree trimming and outdoor winter work, here are a few tips to help you keep warm as the weather gets cold.

Before we start, you should understand how heat actually moves. First, heat always transfers from a warm source to a cold source/area through one of three processes: conduction, convection, and radiant. Conduction heat transfers by physical contact (touching a hot surface); convection is warm air rising (hot air balloons and steam); and radiant heat travels over a distance (the sun, electric heaters).

When you lose body heat, you're losing radiant heat. That is, heat is radiating off your body. It's not rising (convection), and you're not losing it through physical contact (conduction) unless you're sitting on a cold surface. And if you can remember that principle, you can understand how to keep warm when you're working outside.

landscape-1763392_640.jpgThe goal is to keep heat from radiating off you, as well as to keep your core temperature up by helping your body to produce heat. Here are five tips to stay warm this winter, the first of which is insulating your body against heat loss.

1. Dress in layers. Dressing in layers is much more effective than only wearing a couple bulky items. It might work if you're taking the dog out or making the thee-mile trek across the mall parking lot, but when you're spending 8 – 10 hours outside you need the separate layers and the air layers between them. We recommend at least a t-shirt, long sleeve t-shirt, heavy work shirt, and then a sweatshirt and outdoor work jacket. This gives you more mobility and flexibility than just a long shirt and heavy work coat. Plus, dressing in several layers will let you regulate your temperature as you need it. Get a little chilly? Put on another layer. Warming up in the sun? Strip off a thin layer or two.

2. Be sure to eat throughout the day. Food is the fuel that keeps you moving and warm, and your body will burn a lot more of it up when it's cold outside. That means you'll get colder sooner as your fuel is used up faster. Carry a couple energy bars or pieces of fruit so you can have a snack during break times to keep your energy up. Warm food is also a help. Carry soup or coffee in a thermos and keep it out of the coldest part of the day. The warming drink or food will not only warm you up, but you can have it later in the afternoon when you might need a boost in your core body temp.

3. Never eat snow when you're thirsty. Ditto drinking cold water when you get warmed up. Your body uses energy to melt snow and warm up cold beverages, which lowers your body temperature. If you're trying to keep warm, this is the last thing you want to do. We've discussed the importance of staying hydrated in the past, but don't drink the same thing in the winter that you do in the summer — warmer beverages are always better than cold ones. Avoid ice water and keep your water bottles in your pockets or in your vehicles, out of the cold weather.

4. Wear a hat. First of all, it's a myth that you lose 40 – 45% of your body heat through your head. If that were the case, we could all wear hats and skip the jackets altogether. But that doesn't mean you don't lose heat through your head. You still lose a lot of heat if your head is uncovered. Wear a thin ski cap if you can fit it under your personal protective gear. While it may not be the thick knit toque favored by many people in the frigid north, a thin ski cap can still keep you fairly warm.

5. Don't sit on anything cold. Remember what we said about conductive heat loss? That if you're touching a warm surface, heat will transfer to the cooler surface. When you're sitting on the ground or a metal tailgate during break times, you lose body heat because you're the warm surface and your body heat is transferring into the cold tailgate.

You can sit safely and comfortably if you have some insulation between you and your seated surface, like a coat or even a folded-up blanket. Otherwise, you'll lose heat quickly, no matter how warmly you're dressed or how much food you eat.

The Midwest can get pretty cold starting in December, and depending on where you live, it can stay colder much longer than March and April, so it's important to do everything you can to keep warm. Not only does it let you work in comfort, it helps you keep safe and focused on your work.

  Photo credit: Skeeze (Pixabay, Creative Commons 0)
Posted: 12/19/2017 8:00:00 AM by Townsend Corporation

When you're dehydrated, your muscles work harder, which can make you more tired. It can also increase your blood pressure and lead to irregular heart rhythms. So being dehydrated is nothing to ignore or think you can power through. Your health and safety depends on you staying hydrated.

You can tell if you're getting dehydrated if you're terribly thirsty, aren't sweating, or start getting a headache. Also, if you don't have to urinate as frequently, or if your urine is a dark yellow color, you're not getting enough water.

Ongoing dehydration — not drinking enough water every day — can also give you bad breath, dry skin, muscle cramps, and even cravings for sweets.

When this happens, the best thing to do is drink a lot of water, but to do it fairly slowly. Don't guzzle an entire quart of water at once. Instead, take smaller drinks over a longer period of time. You can also drink an 8 ounce glass of water every hour if your schedule allows it. Otherwise, keep a water bottle handy and take a drink whenever you feel thirsty.

If you're seriously dehydrated and can't keep water down, then take tiny sips and take your time. If you're at this stage, you may have some other serious symptoms like feeling light-headed or being dizzy, so be sure to tell you crew leader or foreman.

 

Avoid Energy Drinks

At Townsend, we don't allow our crew to consume energy drinks on the job, because they actually cause dehydration. An energy drink contains high caffeine and sugar content, which contributes to dehydration (which is why you shouldn't drink soda to fight thirst either).

Energy drinks are also diuretics, which means you "put out" more than you take in. Tea and coffee are also diuretics, so try to avoid those on the job, unless you're also drinking plenty of water.

Energy drinks are not suitable boosts if you're feeling tired. Of course, the best boost is to get plenty of sleep, but if you had a late night, stick with water and maybe some coffee at lunch. By staying well hydrated, you can fight off that drowsy feeling.

Finally, Gatorade and other sports drinks may offer electrolytes and other nutrients, but nothing beats water when it comes to staying hydrated. You can drink Gatorade on the job, just remember to drink an equal amount of water with it.

Hands down, the best way to stay hydrated is with regular water, or even fruit juice in a pinch. If you're not a fan, then add a splash of fruit juice, like lemon juice, to give it some extra flavor. Make sure you have plenty of fresh produce at lunch, since it contains a lot of water.

Posted: 12/5/2017 2:19:21 PM by Townsend Corporation

With the days getting darker, the temperatures decreasing, and the holidays on the horizon, our thoughts often turn toward anything but what we are presently doing. Our minds wander more frequently to events planned for the upcoming weekend. Over the holidays, most of us will spend time with our family, follow our faith, go to holiday parties, eat plenty of food, and open those wonderful gifts, and so we may spend time thinking about all of that. This mindset is often called Holiday Fever.
Take a few minutes and think of yourself on a job getting distracted by thinking about your holiday plans.
  1. What are some of the consequences that could arise?
  2. Do you ever remember yourself being lost in a world described above?
  3. What are some of the ways you can think of to combat Holiday Fever?
  4. Holiday Fever affects people differently, and how you deal with it has a direct effect on your attitude and outlook that day.
  5. While the distractions don't last that long, time is irrelevant when an accident or incident can occur in a brief second.
The only way we can stay injury- and accident-free is to concentrate on the task at hand, practice present-moment thinking, and don’t let your mind wander to another place or time. We may not get to this place and time if we don't practice safety first on the job and at home.
 
Remember the basics:
  • Have a proper job briefing and to follow that briefing to the completion of the job.
  • Use proper PPE.
  • Have proper equipment for the task.
  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • No shortcuts.
  • Keep your mind on task, all the way to completion.
Posted: 12/4/2017 12:18:58 PM by Townsend Corporation

 The beautiful fall colors are soon to be upon us. The leaves will fall, frost will come, and we will be left with the hazards of autumn.
 
 As we work in these conditions keep in mind that there may be a hole, a ditch or a storm drain beneath your feet. Walk areas out with a probe stick if they look questionable. When positioning equipment in yards, road ways or right of ways always keep in mind that hidden hazards, can pop up at any time.
 
WALKING WORKING SURFACES – Slow down, smaller steps, hands out of pocket, look ahead.
– Falling leaves will hide trip & fall hazards such as depressions in the ground to step in and objects to trip/fall over.
– Frost – Makes all walking surfaces slick but especially grass, leaves and newly excavated dirt.
– Snow/Ice – Do we have snow/ice removal plan in place and communicated to all employees? Salt, broom, shovel by exits? Do affected employees have ice cleats?
– Getting in/out or on/off vehicles-maintain three-point contact until both feet are firmly on the ground.
 
DRIVING- Allow a little extra time so you are not rushing or frustrated when you encounter:
– School buses, tractors, combines, trucks hauling grain, construction zones. Maintain your space.
– Dew on the side mirrors and windows
– Driving when the sun is low in the sky
– Foggy mornings
– Deer along the road
– Frost on bridges, overpasses and ramps
 
This fall/winter season don’t be complacent, trigger on change & changing conditions.
-- Mark Kimbrough, Director of Safety 
Posted: 10/30/2017 12:51:49 PM by Townsend Corporation