All power tools can be dangerous and have the potential to inflict serious injury on the operator especially if one has no experience or training in using such equipment. Chainsaws, in particular, are among the most dangerous having the potential to inflict life-threatening injuries on the operator if used incorrectly. So learning the safe operation of a chainsaw is a must.
According to the (CDC) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are approximately 36000 chainsaw related injuries per annum in the US with an average of 110 stitches required per injury and a medical bill in excess of $5000.
Chainsaw injuries include cuts and lacerations to the legs, head, and torso. In many cases they are fatal. The great danger though is from falling trees and branches. Again this can cause serious injury.
Before you even consider purchasing a chainsaw it is essential or at the very least highly recommended that you attend at least a basic chainsaw operators course in your area. Such courses are available in most areas and countries around the world for a nominal fee.
With the safe operation of a chainsaw course, you will learn the basic skills and knowledge required to operate a chainsaw. Such courses will usually include everything from basic chainsaw assembly to how to fell a tree or cut firewood. It will also include the recommended safety equipment required.
Here is a short video from Husqvarna which demonstrates the safe operation of a chainsaw and basic precautions you need to take to avoid injury.
Those most at risk from chainsaw related injuries are casual or home users and those living on farms, smallholdings, and ranches as in most cases they rarely have completed any kind of training related to chainsaws. They may only use a saw occasionally and lack the training and knowledge required for more complex tasks.
Professional foresters and arborists and others in the forestry related industry are more likely to have completed a comprehensive training course on all aspects of chainsaw use. It is usually mandatory to have completed a certified course to work in this industry.
Rules for the Safe Operation of a Chainsaw
- Make sure that the chainsaw is properly maintained as per the manufacturer’s specifications and in good working order before you start.
- Wear the correct protective gear, including steel toe cap boots, a helmet with a visor and ear protection built-in, good quality gloves and chainsaw safety trousers or chaps.
- Check that the chain is sharp and correctly tensioned. Check the tension regularly.
- Check that the chain brake is working correctly.
- When you are not cutting, engage the chain brake.
- When transporting the saw even a short distance, turn off the engine and use the chain guard or scabbard.
- Make sure the chain oil reservoir if full and the chain is being properly lubricated.
- Take great care when fueling the saw as gas is highly flammable. Make sure it does not come in contact with the hot exhaust. Keep the fuel well away from where you are using the saw.
Some additional points to remember when operating a chainsaw.
- Never operate a chainsaw when tired or under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Start the saw on the ground and make sure the chain brake is engaged.
- Do not use the chainsaw to cut above your shoulder height.
- Do not use the saw while standing on a ladder.
- Do not operate a chainsaw in windy weather.
- Try to avoid using the chainsaw when alone.
- Never use the chains kickback zone to cut as it can lead to serious injury.
If you do not have all the safety equipment available or you do not feel competent to operate the chainsaw it would be recommended that you engage the services of a professional arborist.
This is not meant to be an exhaustive guide to the safe operation of a chainsaw but it is a start and is no substitute for a recognized chainsaw operators course. If you do a quick Google search you will find that a chainsaw training course is available in your area.