Safety tips as Christmas tree harvest begins

Christmas tree harvest safety often begins long before the trees are ready for harvest by maintaining plantations, training employees and preparing for emergencies.

As you start the season, Michigan State University Extension advises providing “harvest training” to your workers. This should be done each season to include issues that have changed and recognize and reinforce safety practices. Make sure that workers are aware of hazards and understand how they can safely accomplish the job.

Make sure employees know what to do in an emergency

It is critical that you are able to rapidly direct emergency responders to the harvest site. Make sure that crew members know the address or how to give directions to the field they will be working in, what the emergency contact numbers for the local response organizations are and where the emergency supplies are located. Also, growers should make sure they have emergency contact information for workers on file in an easy to access, but secure area.

Personal protection equipment

Include any necessary personal protective equipment needed for the harvest operation such as ear plugs, safety glasses, and leg and foot protection. Levels of noise over 85 decibels can cause hearing damage over an eight-hour day. In particular, the chain saw operator, assistants and those operating balers may need hearing protection. Safety glasses should be used to prevent injury from flying debris such as needles, weeds caught in the trees, soil, etc.

Hearing protection
Hearing protection like ear muffs or plugs should be worn to
help prevent hearing loss.

Make sure the equipment has been fully inspected and maintained

Poorly maintained equipment can lead to significant risk of injury. Completing a pre-harvest maintenance check before harvest will not only reduce the risk of injury, but also improve productivity throughout the season. Check chains, linkages and belts for wear or damage, check welds for cracks and fatigue, and make sure shields and guards are in place. Make sure chains on chainsaws are properly sharpened and fire extinguishers charged and available.

Proper safety preparation for the Christmas tree harvest season will require some time and planning on the part of owners and managers. However, the time invested in preparation can save time and unexpected delays, but more importantly can insure the safety of your workers and family members.

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