Clearing fallen trees poses a significant safety risk.
Workers have been urged to pay particular attention to the risk posed by fallen trees when Storm Lorenzo passes the country on Thursday evening.
With winds of up to 120kph forecast for Ireland today, Thursday, October 3, the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) is warning that dangers linger long after an extreme weather event passes, especially for those using chainsaws.
The orange weather warning in place for Galway, Mayo, Clare, Kerry and Limerick from 6pm today until 3am Friday is expected to result in damage and fallen trees.
Many workers particularly those involved in storm repair, construction, farming and transportation will be facing increased hazards.
Unfortunately, two people lost their lives during Storm Ophelia while cutting and clearing windblown trees.
The HSA has issued a warning to anyone planning on using a chainsaw to cut down fallen trees.
Urging them to take extra caution and to leave chainsaw use to the experts, HSA assistant chief executive Mark Cullen, said: “Many owners of chainsaws only use them occasionally and may lack the training, experience and knowledge required for certain tasks.
“As most trees are still in full leaf, there is a high risk that there will be a significant number of fallen trees and branches as a result of the high winds. Windblown trees are particularly dangerous and unpredictable and should only be dealt with by competent and experienced chainsaw operators,” he added.
The HSA has issued the following guidance to workers ahead of the arrival of Storm Lorenzo:
The most common cause of fatalities in clearing fallen trees and branches using chainsaws arises from the high risk of being struck by falling trees or branches during clean-up operations.
- Only those with appropriate training in the use of chainsaws should operate chainsaws
- Never work on your own
- Ensure that bystanders are at a safe distance from cutting activities
- Wear suitable head and face guard protection
- Wear a high-visibility jacket, and protective clothing
- Do not walk or work under unstable windblown trees
- Tell someone your estimated time of return.
The HSA is advising anyone encountering fallen trees not to try to clear or fell such trees. Instead, they should contact their local authority who have expert trained crews with specialist equipment to deal with storm damaged and windblown trees.
Working at height
Any work at height, such as repair of overhead lines or the roofs of farm buildings, should also be undertaken with extreme caution in mind. Repair of roofs should only be done after Storm Lorenzo has been cleared and a risk assessment has been carried out.
All work at height must be properly planned and organised, the correct equipment should be used, and anyone working at height must be competent to do so.
Work activity in the agriculture sector will be severely hampered by the storm, and the HSA is advising farmers to take precautions and make their personal safety paramount.
Also it is important to have a fully charged mobile phone and a torch, even if just going out to feed animals in sheds or to carry out milking. Pathways to machinery and sheds should be cleared to reduce the risk of slips and falls.
Further information can be found on the HSA website on www.hsa.ie or phone 1890 289 389.