Chainsaw Safety

Ten Tips That Can Reduce Your Risk of Injury hazardous trees

According to the US Products Safety Commission, every year approximately 70,000 people are injured in chainsaw accidents, many severely enough to require emergency medical assistance. Lack of familiarity with the chainsaw and careless operation are the two main causes for this disturbing number of accidents. If you choose to operate a chainsaw, use caution and commonsense, and follow these ten chainsaw safety tips.

  • Read The Owners Manual - One of the best ways to become familiar with all the features of your chainsaw is to read the owners manual from cover to cover. As crazy as it sounds, many first time operators skip this important step.

  • Practice, Practice, Practice - If you have little or no experience with a chainsaw, it is a good idea to practice on smaller trees before tackling the larger jobs.

  • Wear Protective Clothing - In the heat of Florida it is sometimes tempting to scale back on your protective clothing. Don’t do it. We recommend wearing a hard hat, goggles, leather gloves and hard-toe work boots. Chaps are also a good idea and you can now find some that will jam a chainsaw on contact for added protection.

  • Be Physically and Mentally Sound - Operating a chainsaw can be taxing on your body. But while you need to be in good physical shape, it is equally important to be mentally sound as well. Make sure you are well rested and alert, and never operate a chainsaw after consuming alcohol, taking drugs or using prescription medications.

  • Don’t Use Dull Blades - Believe it or not, sharper saw blades are much safer than dull ones, because they pull through the wood much more easily. When a chainsaw has a dull blade the operator has a tendency to “push down” on the wood rather than just letting the blade do the work. This can lead to operator fatigue and increased accidents.

  • Follow Starting Guidelines - First make sure the chainsaw is not on and place it firmly on the ground. Then put your right foot in the loop of the rear handle and hold the upper handle with your left hand before pulling the starter rope with your right hand.

  • Use Proper Cutting Techniques - Never cut between your legs or your feet, especially while standing on the log you are cutting. Also, if possible, keep a tree limb or another barrier between you and what you are cutting. Your owner’s manual will have additional “safe cutting” tips.

  • Guard Against Kickback - When the teeth of your chainsaw catch on something, it can “kick back” toward you in a violent manner and cause serious injury. You many want to purchase a chainsaw, which has chain breaks, and kickback guards that protect the operator. If you are inexperienced, you should also use the tip guard, even though this will limit what you can accomplish with a chainsaw.

  • Use Only From Ground Level - Some experienced tree service workers can operate a chainsaw while standing on a ladder or perched in a tree. You can’t. For safety purposes, always remain on firm ground when using a chainsaw.

  • Never Operate Alone - Always have a “cutting buddy,” friend or adult family member with you when operating a chainsaw. That way, if a chainsaw accident happens, there will be someone to assist you in receiving medical attention.

  • Jon Wilbur is an ISA Certified Arborist and co-owner of Pinellas Tree Service, in Clearwater.

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    Copyright, 2005, All Rights Reserved

    Jon Wilbur