The Illusion of Safety: Safe vs. Safer vs. Safer-er

This thread got me thinking a few thoughts:

Safety vs. risk is an interesting thing. We all take calculated risks, whether we acknowledge that or not. We 'choose' the level of risk we are comfortable with, but we can't really 'choose' to be safe; there is no guarantee of that goal, as it is a moving target.

Through shared knowledge and learning, sometimes tempered by a range of other input data (experience, caution, testosterone, bravado, laziness, obsessive compulsions) we each have developed patterns of behavior (a personal 'understanding' of the risks in tree work) that sometimes reduces and sometimes increases the likelihood of our exposure to risk. The majority of us consciously and unconsciously work to minimize risk to the best of our understanding. Safety is a state of mind perhaps, but risk is the world we live in on a daily basis.

I worked in trees intensely for a few years, and then again every few years, off and on for 31 years now.
My lifetime exposure to risk, and thus, one might assume a seemingly arbitrary 'risk-quotient' is much lower than any of you who have been at it for five (or six) days a week, 50 weeks a year, for years. That is solely due to my having less of a total exposure to the inherent risks. I was off the spars for a few years at a time; less exposure = less risk.

I took time off to go to school (well, I worked trees on the side to pay for nursing school), and worked as a nurse in a trauma unit, and as a hospice nurse (look up nosocomial infections - talk about exposure to things that can kill you!). All-in-all I likely have only 15 to 18 years total experience in those 31 years.
And, most of the highest-risk, craziest things I've done were before Go-Pro and phone cameras (luckily).

What I realize every time I start up a tree, or climb on a motorcycle for that matter, is that I inherently am accepting the risks involved.
Certain things to me are basic for my risk-reduction (perhaps I could also phrase it: 'a tendency toward safety'). I will not judge another for their choices; I make mine all the time. I will wear a helmet, as even a seemingly minor pop on the noggin can be life-altering. I have had way too many Closed Head Injury patients to not put on a lid. I can 'see' myself incapacitated, and so I choose to minimize that outcome.

And, back in the day we used manila, natural crotched, and our 'Port-a-Wrap' was the trunk of the tree...
I shouldn't even post on this thread:/:

I run a VERY high production operation with minimal manpower, we break a couple of the safety rules as we are all highly skilled and I would like to think highly paid individuals. We strive for production with acceptable risks.

To date the worst accident on one of my job's was a guy tripping and falling off of a truck bed, broken wrist and shoulder.....
Good article Patrick. I think about things like that a lot. I try my hardest to be as safe as possible at work. I do everything the way it's supposed to be done. Unless it makes the task more dangerous. Which as we all know happens more often than you'd think . I fell timber for years. I've owned my own tree service for even longer. Safety is always on my mind. What's the worst I've been hurt in 25 years? I fell in a well leaving the gym one night. It was an old well not in use. Had one tile above ground someone had backed into it and moved the tile about 8 inches. After leg night and I couldn't hardly walk I slip off in it. Nice piece of rebar sticking out. Rips my leg open up one side and eats all the skin off the other. Had to have stitches.

Long story but we are never safe. I climb, race bikes, fly PPGs and all kinds of dumb things. And then that happens.

Years ago we worked for a well known timber company. I was supposed to wear hard hat, steel toed saw resistant boots, chaps, ear muffs, safety glasses and a screen, carry a first aid kit with a mirror and a whistle. And about 8 other things. You can't do that in 100 degree weather and survive. Not to mention get anything done.

Safety is great. I'm as safety conscious as anyone but things happen. In flying its called risk vs reward. You learn the risk and if it's worth the reward then you do it knowing the dangers. We do that everyday as arborists. Again nice article Patrick.
Holy cow I'm impressed! I thought all the normal people .........
Quiet a derail-meant; also not quite sure normal applies to anyone in the trade; let alone hear.
Have always been some kind of reject; seems this electronic non-space was in fact birthed on those that didn't seem to flow with the other flavors presented.
At some point,orchestration of safety into the mix becomes just another art form; of how good are you to a large extent.
>>But things like constantly fogging goggles can be more risky, so always went with bugeyes etc.
>>ain't much for chaps in a tree neither; that seems a lil'over the top.
We do walk thru the valley of death tho; if 1 comment save 1 life or leg;please excuse; particularly if it is ye'own!

There was an incident here loacally years back,my buddy came and got me to close the job for the guy..
i'll never forget;can't erase nor elude;
the haunting ring still in my ears from the funeral ;
from the in-human wails made by the husband that was the one that found his wife of 8mos. spraying out the wrong end of the chipper
as he clutched the 6yr. old kid that was left behind; while shaking involuntarily.
(this is a before shot...)

Let's be careful out there! (hillstreet blues)
I recall your first posting of that horrible incident, Spyder.

Like you, Fi...still gives me the deepest sort of creeps. Maybe like you, because I did and still do, work with my life partner in all things tree.