i'm not certified in any way for killing trees, but i've been doing it for 20 yrs and feel pretty comfortable. haven't hurt myself or anyone else yet, and i've been in some reasonably complex situations.
i'm sure there's a lot of value in taking a formal course, but there's a lot to be said for experience. there are many people i know who use a saw regularly who do it safely and don't get hurt. in my opinion, you're over-stating the importance of formal training here.
there would be NO trails if only "certified" fallers built trails. i'm sorry your friend was killed, that's horrible, but its not like we're dropping like flies around here.
Um yeah, the only intent here was to get people thinking about the hazards of the activity, and ENCOURAGE interest in training. I'm not sure exactly how I "over-stated" the value of formal training in any way. There is no substitute for proper training, just as there is no substitute for experience. To be a good saw handler, IMHO, you need both.
I NEVER suggested for one second that trail building be stopped until there are teams of certified fallers ready to go. I made it pretty clear when I was giving my strictest workplace interpretation, and acknowledged that the most stringent technical requirements do not exactly meet the needs of reality in the woods. I think I made it clear, that seeking out experience by working with someone is a good way to proceed. Learning by trial and error is not an option. Some people understood the intent of the thread, and recognize the inherent value of expanding their skill set.
It's the casual "experience matters" attitude that gets people killed. Having dealt with complex situations in the past without getting hurt DOES NOTHING to reduce your chances of future injury. If anything, it increases the likelihood that in a moment of over-confidence, you'll drop a log on your own head (which NO ONE wants to see).
I had a target audience for this thread. First, are new or less experienced trail builders. I hope that some of them recognize the hazards of saw work, and pause before trying to learn on the fly, and maybe seek out a pro to learn from (i.e. experience), maybe even seek out some formal training. Second, are the experienced builders who may not have a fully rounded knowledge base for cutting trees.QUite a few chimed in, and gave some good input. Perhaps, a few of them will see some value here, and seek out some training, or network with people they know that are trained fallers. That can ONLY help them, and that CANNOT be overstated. Like I already indicate, building and cutting is going to happen. But people can only better themselves and reduce their chance of injury by expanding their skill set.
The third target are experienced builders that already (think they) know everything, but actually do not. Can't really reach them, don't expect to change their minds. If one thinks that "doing okay so far" is reason enough to say phooey to formal training, I'll just cross my fingers for them. I knew inevitably that this thread would stroke a few egos the wrong way, and have tried hard to keep it respectable while still emphasizing the serious potential of the danger here. Ultimately, I don't really care if a few take it the wrong way or see it fit to trumpet their own experience over training. I work in the industry, and study what kills people, and I'm pretty confident in my assertions.
The reality is that succeeding with bad habits is one of the strongest predictors of future calamity. Not being able to, or refusing to, recognize one's own shortcomings invites disaster. (Okay I said the same thing twice, but I love to overstate things). But really, this is an accepted principle of risk management.
I have known two people that died cutting trees (not even production falling), and two more that have been seriously injured and permanently scarred. Both of the fatalities occurred in the lower mainland. I will continue to "overstate" the importance of training the dangers of knocking down trees as long as I can.
I'll make it really clear here. I love what trail builders are doing, and I do not want to create obstacles for anyone. My intent here is not to trumpet my expertise even if I have to do so a bit to validate my points. In fact, It would be great if guys like SILK take the lead in these discussions, and network with other builders to help them learn. I really just want to stimulate some thoughtful dialogue on awareness of the hazards, and promote discussion of ways to better skill sets and reduce the chance of losing anyone.