A chainsaw’s loud revving sound is recognizable; however, they are inherently dangerous. In fact, the CDC says that over 36,000 people are treated in emergency rooms annually for chain saw-related injuries. Most of the injuries involve hands and legs, while less than 10% involve head and neck injuries, coming from improper use of chainsaws or lax safety protocols and safety precautions.
In order to reduce these injuries, employers need to train their workers in chainsaw safety and usage.
How to operate a chainsaw properly
In order to use a chainsaw correctly, workers must check all bolts, handles, pressure plates, and controls to ensure everything is in good running order. Chainsaws should be set on the ground or another firm surface with the brake engaged when starting.
Workers should keep both hands on the handles and operate the chainsaw in an area where they can maintain secure footing. This includes maintaining their center of balance and not reaching out too far with the chainsaw in order to reach something at a distance.
The blade of the chainsaw should never be held above the head and workers should be encouraged to take breaks as needed to minimize fatigue.
Techniques for using chainsaws safely
Workers must follow the following chainsaw safety techniques to reduce the risks of injury to workers or others:
- Ensure the fall area is free of debris and hazards
- Cut an object as close as possible to nearby objects so the objects do not collide unexpectedly
- The tip guard must stay in place
- Both hands grip the handle
- Always try to avoid cutting an object that is under tension
All other workers and the public should remain at least 150 feet apart from anyone who is cutting an entire tree or removing limbs.
Beware of these high-risk situations when using a chainsaw
Chainsaws are inherently dangerous, even when expertly operated. Employees should avoid tasks that are beyond their abilities or skills. Here are some examples of high-risk chainsaw operations:
- Using a chainsaw in higher places in a tree or when climbing a ladder
- Working on a slanted or irregular surface
- Removing trees in danger of falling
- Working during severe weather such as heavy rain or extreme cold
- Working with no breaks
Chainsaw safety is paramount
To keep everyone on the job site safe, your workers need to be knowledgeable about how to safely operate and handle chainsaws. For more extensive safety guidelines, we recommend this terrific resource from OSHA.