Posts Tagged ‘Power line vegetation maintenance’

Arboriculture Canada is a National Awarding Body (NAB) with the ABA (Awarding Body Association) International.

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

We are proud to announce that we have been accepted as members of the ABA International body.  Arboriculture Canada is now a National Awarding Body (NAB).  We would like to introduce the ABA to our customers in Canada, and especially the candidates who have successfully achieved qualification status (chainsaw) through our testing process in the past years.   (other domains to come)

This article will introduce you to the ABA International, and tell you what credentialing through the ABA can do for you.

Who is the ABA?

ABA International (Awarding Body Association) was founded in 2012 in response to a demand for international recognition of qualifications gained at state or national levels. The trans-national mobility of qualified people facilitated by a voluntary partnership of national awarding bodies is a core principle of ABA.

ABA is managed on a minimum administrative basis in a cost effective manner. A simplified organisational structure provides each member country equal representation within the association.

National awarding bodies (NAB) are subject to an International accreditation and vetting process. Core to quality assurance and uniformity of the qualifications is the principle of trans-national supervision. In support of this principle ABA continuously develops, updates and enhances International qualifications skills standards & matrices.

Partner agreements include general procedures for cooperation; transfer of qualification credits; national awarding body responsibilities; certification endorsement etc.

Further, ABA endeavours to promote the mutual recognition of its member’s qualifications world-wide therefore reducing or removing potential barriers to employment and mobility.

The ABA’s Mission:

To facilitate, accredit, develop, support and promote the recognition of individuals national skills qualifications and certifications between partner countries worldwide

THE ABA’s Mission Objectives:

Establishing & setting certification standards: undertake a continuous review & improvement process to ensure they remain consistent and rigorous Quality assurance of the certification: ensure validation of content, currency, delivery and review methods are consistently maintained and comparible

ABA has the following key roles:

  • Qualification development: maintaining a support network with international educational advisors
  • National Awarding Body support: ensuring good practice is maintained, encouraged, developed and facilitating communication
  • National Awarding Body external inspections & vetting process: facilitating trans-national observations of training & assessment practices and awarding body audits
  • Promoting the principle of continuous improvement: facilitating exchange opportunities between National Awarding Body instructors, assessors and educational advisors

Why Get ABA Certification?

National skills certification demonstrates that you have achieved a recognised standard within your skills or chosen occupational sector. In addition, the ABA International ‘stamp of approval’ on your certification provides the following benefits:

  • Enhanced mobility: instant participating partner country recognition no need to re-take already proven training or skills tests to work abroad (saving time & money)
  • Enhanced employability: demonstrates your competency at an international level to current or potential future employers(helping to break-down barriers)
  • Enhanced credibility: demonstrates proof of your skills verified to rigorous national and international standards (high quality)

Are you an Arboriculture Canada Qualified Technician in a Chainsaw Domain?

Arboriculture Canada has been given equivalency for chainsaw qualification with the ABA in the following chainsaw training domains.  If you have taken a chainsaw qualification test and successfully become a Qualified Technician in one of these domains in the last five years (since January, 2010), you will be receiving an email inviting you to register yourself for the ABA Certification.  The only thing required to receive this ABA Certification is a $12 processing fee and you will then be registered with the ABA Registry (which is an online registrar).  You will immediately be registered as an ABA Certified Candidate internationally.

Arboriculture Canada Chainsaw Qualification Programs and ABA Equivalencies:

Arboriculture Canada Qualification ABA Qualification
Chainsaw Safety & Cutting Techniques (Chainsaw Operator Technician) Chainsaw Level 1:  Chainsaw Maintenance & Cross-cutting Techniques
Technical Tree Falling & Cutting (Tree Faller Technician) Chainsaw Level 1:  Chainsaw Maintenance & Cross-Cutting Techniques andChainsaw Level 2:  Basic Tree Felling Techniques
Hazard & Danger Tree Cutting & Falling (Hazardous Tree Falling Technician)  (provided you have received the Tree Faller Technician) Chainsaw Level 3:  Advanced Tree Felling Techniques andChainsaw Level 4:  Windblown & Damaged Tree Felling Techniques.

For any candidates who have taken customized tests with Arboriculture Canada through your organization or company in the chainsaw domain, please contact Nancy to inquire which equivalency is applicable to your test.

Arboriculture Canada is choosing to endorse and support the goals and aims of the ABA, as we believe that the intentions align nicely with our corporate vision and the recognition of ABA qualifications around the world will serve to improve the safety of working arborists and chainsaw operators.

Controlled Hinge Release – releasing lodged or hung up trees.

Sunday, May 8th, 2011

In my last article I shared a technique for safely releasing lodged or hung up trees.  I am going to expand on this concept in this article.

One disadvantage of the mis-match cut is that in some cases, the vertical wood fibre lamination may release before the saw operator is at a safe distance away.  It is a rare occurrence, but it can happen and is an example of why alternative techniques are always good to have in the mental toolbox.

The controlled hinge release is another technique for releasing hung or snagged trees that can offer some additional control when cutting these types of trees.

Controlled hinge release techniques at work.

The controlled release hinge technique is employs the use of a notch and also requires the hinge to be established using a bore cut.  The notch and hinge are set before the final back cut is made and optimizes safety by using a mis-matched back cut and a pull line to release the tree when the operator is ready and clear of the danger zone.

An open face notch is cut in the opposite side of where the pull line is installed. This way when the tree is pulled, the notch closes and the tree hinges towards the pull line. The placement of the notch should not only consider the pull line direction but also the side that best facilitates the dislodging of the snag or hung tree.

Preparing to by-pass the strap.

The bore cut establishes the hinge which should be made thinner than normal when dealing with a standing tree.  Instead of the standard 10% to 7% of diameter, a maximum of 5% to 3% should be used. This is due to the lack of bending moment that exists in hung or snagged tree scenarios.  A limitation of this method is that it is best suited for large enough diameter tree where there is enough wood behind the hinge to allow for the bore cut to be made and in situations where the butt of the tree is not attached to the roots or dug into the ground.

First attach a pull line to the tree and install any mechanical advantage needed to pull the tree. Once the notch and hinge are cut, you will have the small portion of wood left uncut at the back of the tree – commonly called the ‘strap’.  The final step is to place a by-pass or mis-match cut just below the bore cut and cut far enough so that this kerf passes the kerf above, creating a mis-matched strap. This will hold or control the release of the tree until a load is applied to the pull line.

The strap releases and the tree will fold or ’walk’ in the direction of the pull line when the tree is pulled.  Often this action is enough to dislodge the hung tree or snag.  If it does not, the line is moved up and the technique is repeated. The repeated cuts move the snag or hung tree in a lateral direction, encouraging it to dislodge and keeping the snag from becoming more vertical where it is likely to fall unpredictably when it dislodges. The controlled release hinge maximizes cutter control and safety.

Bore cutting the back cut of the controlled hinge release.
Safe working distance.
Using mechanical advantage to dislodge a snag.

An article is no substitute for hands on training and this article is intended to stimulate thought.  I trust my description along with the photo’s can help you to understand this very effective technique for freeing hung or snagged trees.

Too often a variation of this technique is used with a conventional back-cut, where the notch is cut in the upper side of the snag and the hinge is formed with the cutter standing right beside the tree and a very quick and abrupt jump is made in an attempt to escape as the tree releases and hinges.  Control is not part of this technique and can result in the cutter being struck or pinned by the butt of the tree.  This technique also moves the tree closer to the snagged or hung obstacle, causing the tree after frequent attempts to become more and more vertical resulting in a very large and dangerous drop zone.

It is a known fact that 90% of all tree cutting accidents occur within 5 feet of where the final cut is made, within 15 seconds of the tree beginning to fall or hinge. This is called the 5-15-90 rule. It stands to reason that if the tree can be released at a distance greater than five feet and before falling or hinging action begins that the likelihood of being injured is reduced by 90%. It is with this thought in mind that the controlled release hinge is utilized.

In my next article I plan to share another technique which is well suited for scenarios where an uprooted tree is hung or snagged, or where the butt of a snagged or hung tree is dug deep into the ground.

Dwayne Neustaeter


Sunday, February 6th, 2011

  Arboriculture Canada chainsaw instructors and associates gathered together for Chainsaw Instructor Intensive Training Camp 2011, in the Peterborough, ON region at Elmhirst’s Resorts from Jan. 30 – Feb. 4th.  The purpose:  to review, develop and collaborate together on improving our teaching techniques and updating our course resources with a specific focus on technical tree falling, hazard & danger tree cutting and advanced chainsaw safety, operations and maintenance.

Nine instructors and industry experts from Canada and the US attended this intensive train the trainer program.  The group included: 

Dwayne Neustaeter – Train the Trainer Instructor

Dave Ward – Arboriculture Canada Instructor

John Ransom – Arboriculture Canada Instructor

Mark Cooke – Arboriculture Canada Instructor

Matt Logan – Arboriculture Canada Instructor

Danny LeBlanc – Arboriculture Canada Instructor

Michael Harrell – North American Training Solutions Instructor

Bob Smith – Humber College Instructor

Andrew Hordyk – Arboriculture Canada Instructor

Instructor Group - Chainsaw Intensive Train the Trainer

The program included an in depth analysis of the competency profiles for each of the chainsaw modules offered by Arboriculture Canada.  Teaching templates, power point materials, course workbooks and exam questions and format for all blocks of instruction in our chainsaw modules were reviewed and discussed.  The purpose of this process is to ensure that skills, techniques and methods are safe and modern and instructional material is consistent across the country in the following modules: 

  • Chainsaw Safety & Cutting Techniques
  • Technical Tree Falling & Cutting
  • Advanced Hazard & Danger Tree Cutting & Falling
  • Hazard & Danger Tree Cutting Techniques for Power Service Restoration

This panel of experts in our industry draws on a combined 150 plus years of experience using chainsaws and working in the urban forest, from owning and operating tree services, working for municipalities and teaching in college environments.  This experience, expertise and shared knowledge serve to strengthen and improve course curriculum and teaching methodologies of our courses.

Attendees delivered a block of instruction in camera and before their colleagues, which was followed by a peer review and feedback session on all aspects of the instruction, including the strengths and weaknesses; from introduction, use of accelerated teaching techniques and suggestions on ways to increase retention and the effectiveness of teaching the content.  A day was spent in the snow at the edge of the lake, studying and practicing advanced tree falling and cutting techniques.  An evening of chainsaw maintenance in the shop, tearing down saws, examining maintenance practices and learning from each other was a techie’s dream.

Our customers will see new course workbooks for all chainsaw training modules in 2011.  A complete rewrite of these modules has recently been completed, with accompanying photo’s, diagrams and illustrations to better supplement the learning during the training programs.  These new workbooks provide additional resource material which will strength the retention of learning and supply a resource that can be used following the course to remind students of the skills that they learned.  In time, this learning resource will be available for sale to arborists and chainsaw professionals outside of our student groups and around the world.

The mantra of the week – ‘Cut Straight’ – reverberated strong and was heartfelt.  Each instructor is passionate about teaching, and is especially passionate about reducing the accidents and fatalities caused by chainsaw accidents, cuts, and ‘struck-by’s when falling and cutting trees.  This week was dedicated to studying the techniques used in chainsaw operations and tree felling, as well as learning and practicing teaching skills that will continue to make the programs delivered by Arboriculture Canada instructors effective and leading edge.

The unique personality, passion, authenticity and power of purpose was evident and strong in this group.  Arboriculture Canada is proud and privileged to be associated with such quality people.  To quote the creativity and quick wit of Bob Smith – all our customers can be assured that our instructors ‘gauge the depth of their cutting edge personalities’! 

Arboriculture Canada offers instructor training privately for small groups of people.  Contact us to learn more about how you can get instructor training that reveals the secrets of how to deliver high energy, memorable and effective presentations using adult learning techniques such as; suggestology, accelerated learning, edutainment and educomedy.

Chainsaw Intensive Train the Trainer – A Glimpse!

Vegetation Management – Using the Mis-Match Cut to Free Hung or Snagged Trees on Power lines.

Saturday, December 4th, 2010

During and following severe storm events there is often a need to cut trees, remove large limbs and other debris off the power lines in order to begin the power restoration process. This work is often performed during the storm event or in conditions that are challenging due to weather, darkness and other factors. It is a known fact that working with a chainsaw is one of the most dangerous work procedures any worker can face, compound this with inclement weather and darkness and there is a potential for serious worker injury to occur.   

 Often the workers called on to perform these tasks are power linemen who may have received little specialized training in the skills needed to ensure their safety while working in these situations. Some time ago, while I was providing some basic chainsaw training for a utility client, I asked the student/lineman when they most likely used a chainsaw. Their answer was during or after storms to clear the lines in order to restore the power service. I knew the training we were there to provide did not cover this aspect of tree cutting and as a result, we developed and delivered a specialized curriculum to help lineman meet these challenges safely and efficiently.   

 Since then we have refined and developed techniques that help linemen cut trees and remove branches and debris from power lines. The most common risk that lineman take when cutting trees from the line is that they are typically standing too close to the cut, the line and the tree part when it is released. The review of logging accidents and fatalities indicate that when a cutter is within five feet of where the cutting and release takes place 90% of the accidents and fatalities occur.   

 It was with this in mind that we teach linemen how to use cutting techniques that allow the worker to be at a safe distance away when branches or trees are released. We can teach these techniques by using simple equipment already available and familiar to lineman. It is important that a lineman understand the severity of risk that exists when they are cutting trees hung on power systems.  Linemen already clearly understand the threat of electrocution.  It is the reactive forces of the chainsaw and trees that is most often not a part of the curriculum of most utility apprenticeship programs.   

 Training that teaches the correct techniques for basic tree cutting is necessary for linemen who cut trees on or near the power system during or after storm events in order to support and document due diligence for their occupational health and safety protocols. Documented training and qualification in techniques that provide options that can accommodate a variety of situations or scenarios addresses the problem and ensures diligence. In many cases linemen perform this work based on trial and error and the younger workers rely heavily and often solely on the experience of the seasoned journeyman lineman who often have learned the lessons the hard way. This leaves everyone exposed and at risk for a preventable and negligent inevitability.  If you have linemen or workers who perform these tasks, be sure that documentation of training and records exist that show your organization addresses the specialty situations posed by trees, tops or large limbs hung on the power lines.   

 Here is an example of a very simple technique that allows a cutter to be at a safer distant from a cut when it is released. In other words, it allows the cutter to be already away and in an escape route.  

Mis-match cut

 The mis-match cut or by-pass is a very simple and effective two-cut process that employs wood fibre strength to the cutters advantage. In addition by employing the use of a hand line, a common tool linemen use regularly, any lineman can cut a snagged or hung tree part and release it using the hand line from a safe working distance. Often one or two cuts will free the problem from the line allowing power restoration to commence.  

Making a mis-match cut

 This technique places the cuts in a staggered manner with the lowest of the cuts made in the direction of the intended pull. Attach the hand line to the tree part prior to commencing cutting. The cuts are made just pass half or through the mid way point of the diameter of the tree or branch. It is very important that the cuts are perpendicular to the force of gravity acting on the wood. Equally important is that both cuts bypass each other. The laminated strength of the wood fibres is strong enough to resist breaking, allowing time for the cutter to retreat and pull the piece free with the hand line at a safe distance. The pull of the hand line causes the kerf to close and the vertical wood fibre to release. 

If a mis-match / by-pass cut is unable to be released by pulling, the next option is to insert wedges into both kerfs and drive these wedges alternately until a small crack appears or any cracking or fracturing sound is heard.  It is very important that as soon as a crack is seen or heard that you stop driving the wedges and proceed to a safe distance.  In most cases pulling on the line at this point will release the snag.  Repeat the process as necessary.  

 The primary advantage of using this simple technique is that it allows the cutter to release the tree part at a safe working distance from falling debris, loaded power lines, flying branches or while holding a running chainsaw.  This technique is one of the most popular and is appreciated by linemen who have performed the work I have been describing. They recognize and appreciate the safety advantage this method provides and comment on how they wish they had learned it earlier in their careers. A short  2-3 day course can provide simple and effective work procedures that will improve linemen health and welfare while cutting trees from power lines during or after storm events in order to restore power to customers efficiently and safely. 

  The work many utility workers perform during or after storm events is not basic or ordinary. When called upon they enter an arena of risk seldom faced by many seasoned chainsaw workers – it makes sense that they receive training and education that provides the skills needed to face this dangerous work environment. 

  Dwayne Neustaeter