a Christmas tree operation, shearing Christmas trees is one
of the most important cultural activities for the grower.
Regardless of the species, shearing is necessary to attain
and maintain the proper and desired "Christmas tree shape."
shearing is also labor intensive. While there are an increasing
number of machines designed for shearing on the market (which
still, of course, require operators), the majority of New
Jersey Christmas tree growers still rely on hand tools: hand-held
clippers, shears and shearing knives. Many growers also train
and hire workers for shearing. Quite often, these growers
find there is a high associated turnover rate and they are
constantly hiring and training new workers each yea .
of the work and frequent need for training new-hires makes
shearing potentially one of the most accident-prone operations
in Christmas tree production. To minimize these occurrences,
growers should strive to work safely at all times during shearing
operations, and stress safety when hiring and training workers
for shearing. The following is a safety checklist for shearing
with hand tools:
the tool with which you are most comfortable.
all cutting tools-clippers, handshears, knives-sharp. Either
"touch them up" periodically through the work
day to maintain a sharp cutting edge, or have several tools
available and exchange periodically for a sharper one. Dull,
poorly maintained tools cause accidents.
the pitch buildup on cutting tools by periodically removing
it or ex-changing for another, clean tool.
reaching into and holding a branch or top to be cut with
your free hand and cutting it with hand clippers held in
the other hand; it's an easy way to cut your-self badly.
Wear a protective glove on your "off-hand."
no "horsing around" or "rough-housing;"
shearing tools are just that, not toys.
a glove to improve grip when using knives.
a loop of cord or leather large enough to wear over the
wrist through the knife handle. Wear it over the wrist when
a sharpening steel or some other similar rod or stick 12
to 18 inches long when using knives, to avoid reaching into
the tree or holding branches with the free hand while shearing.
a protective glove on the "free hand" when using
protective chaps or leggings when shearing with knives.
steel-toed boots for protection and ankle support.
and practice the correct cutting stroke when using knives
to minimize arm, wrist and hand fatigue and injury.
a cutting stroke that moves down and away from your body.
not step or move into your cutting stroke; move backwards
around the tree as you shear with knives.
a stepladder when necessary to reach the tops of tall trees.
Always have some-one hold the stepladder.
alert when shearing; watch for such things as holes and
bee or wasp nests.
first-aid equipment available in the field with you.
a bee sting treatment kit with you if you are or suspect
you are allergic to insect stings.
alert and take proper precautions if you are susceptible
or highly allergic to poison ivy.
about lyme disease and take the necessary precautions to
avoid contacting it: dress properly; use repellents; inspect
yourself during and at the end of the day for ticks; look
closely wherever clothing has constricted or ended and at
hairlines and scalp.
dehydration when working in heat and direct sunshine. Bring
and drink plenty of water.
the early symptoms of heat prostration.
frequently to minimize fatigue.
shearing as early in the day as possible to take advantage
of cooler temperatures.
safely is important in all aspects of Christmas tree production.
While shearing may be one operation with a high potential for
accidents, proper planning, precautions, training and common
sense can minimize potential problems.
Publication #: 750-0293-REV
This publication was made possible in part by a grant from the
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Program
on Agricultural Health Promotion Systems for New Jersey. RUTGERS
COOPERATIVE EXTENSION N.J. AGRICULTURAL EXPERIMENT STATION RUTGERS,
THE STATE UNIVERSITY OF NEW JERSEY NEW BRUNSWICK Distributed
in cooperation with U.S. Department of Agriculture in furtherance
of t e Acts of Congress of May 8 and June 30, 1914. Cooperative
Extension work in agriculture, home economics, and 4-H. Zane
R. Helsel, director of Extension. Rutgers Cooperative Extension
provides information and educational services to all people
without regard to sex, race, color, national origin, disability
or handicap, or age. Rutgers Cooperative Extension is an Equal
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