Chain Saw Safety Awareness

Chain Saw Safety Awareness

Working with a chain saw on a day-to-day basis requires the development and follow-through of strong, never-fail safety habits.  In the blink of an eye, this useful tool can cause serious injury to you or others nearby.  Workers who only occasionally use a chain saw may not have ingrained habits, and so must concentrate on accident prevention at all times.  To help develop or maintain safe working habits with this equipment, review the chain saw safety checklist below:

Personal Protective Equipment:  Before reaching for the chain saw, make sure all PPE is in good repair.  Replace anything that is missing or in poor condition before starting to work. The essentials are:

  1. Hard-hats provide protection from chain saw kickback as well as provide protection from objects that may drop from overhead.
  2. Cut Resistant Chaps provide protection from cuts to the operator’s legs, a common injury.
  3. Cut & Slip Resistant Footwear is a sure way to prevent injuries to the feet or ankles if a slip or fall takes place when working with the saw. Boots should be non-slip.
  4. Safety Glasses, goggles or a face shield must be worn anytime a chain saw is used.
  5. Ear Plugs or Muffs should be used by anyone using or working nearby when a chain saw that is in use.
  6. Hand Protection: Proper gloves protect hands from cuts, abrasions and the weather.  They also help prevent problems such as Raynaud’s Disease or White Finger Disease which are caused by extended exposure to vibration and reduced blood circulation.  Some gloves are thin enough to fit inside “White Ox” type gloves and work to absorb vibration.  These gloves also help keep hands warm and increase blood circulation.  Using a saw that is designed to isolate the engine from the handle is a good first step in limiting vibration.  Finally, avoid gripping the saw too tightly, which reduces blood circulation to the fingers.

Equipment Maintenance:  Know your saw, read the manufacturer’s manual, and understand its safe operation.  Sharpen, lubricate and adjust the chain as often as required to maintain good cutting ability. If force on the bar is required to cut, it means the chain is dull and needs to be sharpened. Inspect the sprockets and replace them when they become worn.  A badly worn sprocket makes it nearly impossible to adjust the chain and increases the chances the chain will be thrown.  Make sure bars are wearing evenly. Dress them up with a file every day and flip them to increase bar life.  Make sure chain brakes are installed and in good working order.  Always shut off the saw before setting it on the ground for maintenance or at the end of a cut.

Safe Cutting Practices:  If cutting down trees, remove all snags before felling a tree if possible, and always before proceeding with limbing and bucking.  Once a tree is down and limbing begins, try to always place your body on one side of the tree and the saw blade on the other.  In some terrain, this may not be possible, but never cut limbs with the saw crossing in front of your body.  Try to keep the saw moving in the same plane as the trunk of the tree or material you are cutting, with your feet and body behind that plane.  Avoid cutting with the saw at or above shoulder height.  It’s harder to control at this height and saw chips are much more likely to strike your face.  Continual lifting above shoulder height also has a cumulative effect, and over time may cause fatigue or shoulder and arm injuries.