What Is The Most Important Piece of Personal Protective Equipment?

by Feb 1, 2021Safety, Tree Service0 comments

What is the most important piece of personal protective equipment (PPE)? This is quite an interesting question and would likely cause a debate if you were to ask a roomful of tree service professionals who rely on PPE on a daily basis. In fact, the question itself is admittedly a little bit strange… It’s kind of like asking if you think a finger is worth more than an eye!

I recently posed this question to the owner of Precision Tree Care and Removal, Brazzi Smith. And I must say, his answer surprised me. I was definitely expecting something along the lines of “face shield” or “gloves”.

Here was Brazzi’s one word reply to the text message: “chaps”.

“Chaps??!” Isn’t that something cowboys wear? At first glance the average homeowner may not even consider chaps as a piece of PPE for tree work. But for the tree professional, they are an integral part of saw protection.

Upon reflecting on this piece of PPE a bit further, I recalled that many years ago my own uncle suffered an extremely serious injury from a circular saw that cut an artery and very nearly cost him his life. With this in mind, I began to really understand the importance.

The design of chainsaw chaps is actually pretty amazing. The secret to their effectiveness is multiple layers of fabrics and materials that serve as layers of defense to protect your lower body from being cut by a chain or blade. These layers consist of materials such as high-denier polyester, Kevlar (the stuff used in bullet-proof vests), ballistic nylon — we are talking about very tough, durable materials that definitely help protect from abrasions and cuts.

But let’s face it, if a chainsaw can cut through a solid oak tree, it can get through this initial layer. Here’s where the technology is really fascinating. If this first layer is penetrated, the next layer often features special fibers that are designed to separate instantly. When they separate and loosen, they become lodged in the chain which slows or stops it. Finally, if the chain were to breach that line of defense, there’s another layer that helps to protect the operator.

To review, modern chainsaw chaps are an absolutely integral part of a chainsaw operator’s personal protective equipment, or PPE.

The fact that major arteries run through your legs and lower body make the quality and design absolutely critical. Modern chainsaw chaps include at least 3 layers of defense:

  1. Initial layer made of strong material such as Kevlar.
  2. Second layer consisting of long fabrics designed to separate and slow or stop (clog) the blade very quickly.
  3. Final protective layer to prevent further breach.

For tree service professionals or to ensure the highest quality and protection level, look for certifications such as UL certified chaps. Other standards that can be met include ASTM, ANSI, and OSHA.

And of course, if you need professional tree service in the Live Oak, FL area, and aren’t willing to wear the chaps, you can trust Precision Tree Care and Removal. Give us a call today: (386) 688-5173 or fill out our service contact form.