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Is a hard-shell bike helmet an acceptable emergency substitute for a hard hat?

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Is a hard-shell bike helmet an acceptable emergency substitute for a hard hat?

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Old 05-23-14, 02:49 AM
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slickrcbd
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Is a hard-shell bike helmet an acceptable emergency substitute for a hard hat?

This is not really about bicycle safety, but using bicycle safety equipment for something else.

My mother has some dead branches on a tree, and needs me to come use the chainsaw to cut them off.
However, my late father only owned one hard hat, and I don't own any.
There is a danger that I'll misjudge a branch and have it fall and clunk me or her on the head, as she needs to hold the ladder steady while I'm cutting on the unstable ground beneath the tree.

Would my bicycle helmet be an acceptable substitute for a hard hat for this one-time use trimming a tree? It seems that logical that something that something designed protect my head from impacting the pavement should be able to protect it from a falling tree branch.

Not that I plan to get hit, but accidents happen and it's better to be safe than sorry. This should all be academic, but will it do the job?
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Old 05-23-14, 04:29 AM
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Not if a smaller attached branch goes through a vent.
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Old 05-23-14, 08:18 AM
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i wouldnt even bother grabbing a helmet but okay.. is it a EMERGENCY substitute? depens on the emergency, a piece of wire can be a substitute for a broken chain if youre 45min away from home....
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Old 05-23-14, 08:19 AM
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id be more worried about flying pieces of wood from the chainsaw
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Old 05-23-14, 09:06 AM
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Yes and no. If you flip over a hard-hat, you'll see that there's suspension system designed to cushion blows directly from the top. A bike helmet won't have remotely the same level of cushioning or protection.

I've used a bike helmet exactly like you're describing though. While not nearly as good as a proper hard hat, the helmet will definitely offer some protection from falling branches.
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Old 05-23-14, 10:02 AM
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No.

There are two basic classes of helmets, and the design and construction vary according to the purpose.

Some helmets are designed to protect a stationary head from moving objects, and others to protect a moving head from stationary surfaces.

Bike helmets are the second category, and the design focus is on reducing the G-force of a head strike. They have a thick styrofoam crush zone and a thin shell whose purpose is mainly to keep the styro together.

Hardhats are the opposite, and aren't designed to reduce G-forces, but to prevent penetration of moving objects or projectiles.

A bike helmet might protect you if a sheet of plywood falls into you, but a dropped bolt is coming straight through without slowing.
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Old 05-23-14, 10:31 AM
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I'd just go to your nearest hardware store and buy a hardhat. As others had said a bike helmet won't provide adequate protection.
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Old 05-23-14, 11:26 AM
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Worrying about the wrong thing.

The chain saw is the risk.

You can tie it off to another part of the tree... so if it, or you falls.

But have to ensure that the tether causes it to swing away from anyone...
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Old 05-23-14, 02:20 PM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
...Some helmets are designed to protect a stationary head from moving objects, and others to protect a moving head from stationary surfaces...
It depends on the frame of reference as to what's moving and what isn't, no?
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Old 05-23-14, 02:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Looigi View Post
It depends on the frame of reference as to what's moving and what isn't, no?
Yes, but the general frame of reference would be the earth. It's a question of inertia, are trying to prevent the moving brain from contacting the inside of the skull when the skull suddenly stops, or are trying to protect the skull from fast moving, comparatively low mass projectiles.

Of course there are in between scenarios, such as someone swinging a baseball bat at your head, so life isn't always black and white.
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Old 05-23-14, 11:24 PM
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I've only had short-term temp jobs since April of last year, and am going broke. I was hoping to save some money by using what I had on hand, but if its too dangerous, I'll have to get a hard hat. It's a shame for a one-time job that shouldn't take more than an hour. Although maybe I can convince my mother to spring for the hard hat on the grounds of safety. It's her house and tree, though a part of me still thinks of it as my house since I grew up there.
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Old 05-24-14, 12:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Null66 View Post
Worrying about the wrong thing. The chain saw is the risk....
+1

Make sure you and the saw are above the limb you're cutting. NEVER use the saw with it above about waist high. If you try to cut with the saw raised up, if you get any kickback it is very easy for the saw bar to pivot back dangerously close to your face/head/shoulders/arms.

A secondary (or equally important) safety issue is to not fall off the ladder (especially onto your Mom).

If the limbs aren't too high, then a rental power pole saw may be ideal for this job.

Best Gas Powered Pole Saws | Top 2 Stroke Gasoline Trimmers Reviewed l Best Pole Saw Reviews

Also, move the car a long ways away.

There's a surprising number of "tree cutting accidents" on youtube.

Compound fracture from tree cutting accident - YouTube

Sometimes it's better to be safe and pay someone to perform a job.
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Old 05-24-14, 07:40 AM
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I used to test safety gear including helmets many years ago. Besides the fact that there's an amazing amount of engineering going into design standards, different helmets have to meet different criteria. I don't remember the specifics of bicycle or construction helmet tests but I do know that one wouldn't have to meet the spec's of the other.
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Old 05-24-14, 09:28 AM
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Originally Posted by seeker333 View Post
+1

Make sure you and the saw are above the limb you're cutting. NEVER use the saw with it above about waist high. If you try to cut with the saw raised up, if you get any kickback it is very easy for the saw bar to pivot back dangerously close to your face/head/shoulders/arms.

A secondary (or equally important) safety issue is to not fall off the ladder (especially onto your Mom).

If the limbs aren't too high, then a rental power pole saw may be ideal for this job.

Best Gas Powered Pole Saws | Top 2 Stroke Gasoline Trimmers Reviewed l Best Pole Saw Reviews

Also, move the car a long ways away.

There's a surprising number of "tree cutting accidents" on youtube.

Compound fracture from tree cutting accident - YouTube

Sometimes it's better to be safe and pay someone to perform a job.
Thanks for adding these.

Personally, though I've dropped a LOT of trees, I refuse to take a power saw up into one.
Instead, I'll either take the whole tree, or get a pro.

I saw a couple accidents happen and that was enough.

I used a pole saw a couple times limbing, but I get a bad vibe from those tools... So I won't do that unless there's no other way and I think I can get away with it safely.

Be careful, very careful.
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Old 05-24-14, 11:40 AM
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By asking this question, you should not be using a chainsaw, MHO. It can be very dangerous.
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Old 05-24-14, 11:54 AM
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Eye protection ,, And is the Helmet of the Ski-Bike-Skate type with a thick shell , or a light helmet with a very thin shell ..?? big difference..


Hire a professional tree surgeon Licensed and Bonded ..

you have seen the insurance company Ads of people cutting a Limb and crushing the neighbor's car or your own Roof?

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Old 05-24-14, 12:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Wanderer View Post
By asking this question, you should not be using a chainsaw, MHO. It can be very dangerous.
Roger That!! You're in over your head.
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Old 05-24-14, 01:35 PM
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A helmet is for bump protection only, it can't do anything for you if a tree falls on you or you fall out of the tree.

The most dangerous part of the job is saw kickback, when I was a kid I unfortunately saw a guy turn himself into a Pez dispenser from saw kickback.
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Old 05-27-14, 02:31 PM
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Agree with those who caution you against doing this job at all. Using a chain saw ON A LADDER is very dangerous and needs an experienced user. Think of the hazards:

Chain saw is very heavy, making your balance and safety on the ladder difficult.
Chain saw has a lot of rotating force when revved up - can throw you around
Kickback is not only dangerous - it is deadly. Can cut you bad, kill you or easily throw you off the ladder.
Even a minor kick or disruption of the cut can throw you off the ladder - EASILY
Branch or chainsaw can fall and kill the person below - it's CRAZY to have an inexperienced person on the ladder and an inexperienced person below in the kill zone if anything falls.

I wouldn't ever have someone hold a ladder below me if I were working w/ a chainsaw on a ladder, or even cutting by hand on a ladder, especially if both parties are inexperienced . I wouldn't ever consider using a chainsaw on a ladder (at my age and wisdom) and I've used a chainsaw a lot in my life. Maybe a very solid, fairly short ladder in a very controlled situation, but pruning a large tree, with my mother holding the ladder - never.

Rent or buy an extendable pruner like this.

They are remarkably efficient and are much safer, especially if you put a rope on the branch and pull it sideways or otherwise keep it from falling on you. In the amount of time it takes to safely set up a ladder and ropes on a branch for your plan, you could fairly safely cut through a 12" branch with one of these

Last edited by Camilo; 05-27-14 at 02:34 PM.
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