As useful as they have become, the use of chainsaws is associated with a lot of risks and hazards – cut injuries, back injuries, noise, head injuries, vibrations, crush injuries due to falling tree, injuries as a result of kickbacks, and others. Some of these injuries are sometimes very serious and sometimes result in death.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has reported that in the US, costs of chainsaw injuries amount to at least $350 million per year, and workers’ compensation costs can be estimated to be at least $125 million annually.
Chainsaws are here to stay.
The risks and hazards associated with the use of chainsaws are impossible to eradicate. However, the dangers can be greatly reduced by following the don’ts listed below.
1. Do not use a chainsaw without proper training.
Chainsaw users should get proper training on the safe use of any cutting equipment. Ideally, the training should cover specific procedures and management of safety and health hazards.
It is also important that the chainsaw users should also be aware of immediate actions to carry out in the emergence of injury. While we do all we can to avoid mishaps when cutting with a chainsaw, knowing what to do in the event of an accident is also key.
2. Do not use a chainsaw without wearing protective equipment.
Proper personal protective equipment are essential in reducing the occurrence and severity of injuries. PPE should include head protection, hearing protection, eye/face protection, leg protection, foot protection, and hand protection.
Loads of times, I’ve seen people holding chainsaws with just a pair of flip flops and some shorts on. A lot can go wrong when you underestimate the power of a chainsaw. One minute you’ll be cutting logs with no worry in the world, next minute you’re in the emergency ward.
If you take one thing from this list – it is that wearing PPE is essential when using a chainsaw.
3. Do not saw a log between your feet.
Standing on a log and sawing in between the legs poses the risk of cutting one’s legs. Stand away from the log and saw on the outside of either leg towards the side.
4. Do not leave the chainsaw working while moving between cutting areas.
When moving from one cutting area to another, the chainsaw should be powered down or unthrottled to reduce the possibility of injury.
A working chainsaw has a way of catching onto anything around it when in use. So if you have a loose piece of clothing or small branches, then there’s every chance that your chainsaw chain will latch onto it.
5. Do not cut with the blade tip.
Sawing with the blade tip could result in a chainsaw kickback. If you have a tip guard installed, then it could help to prevent sawing with the blade tip and also help to avoid a kickback.
6. Do not use the chainsaw without clearing the working area.
Ensure that you have a safe working surrounding and secure footing before you start felling a tree. Prepare a prospective escape route from the falling tree.
Ensure that the falling tree does not fall or roll over you. You should cut trees that are on flat ground surfaces if possible. However not all trees happen to grow on flat surfaces, so if you do need to cut a tree on a gradient, then make sure it rolls downhill.
7. Do not run with a chainsaw.
Running with a chainsaw in hand poses a threat of injury to self and others.
Additionally, chainsaws should always be mo in a case. At the minimum, a scabbard should be used to cover the blade and chain during transportation.
I know many might think it looks good in a horror movie when a man runs across a darkened road with a chainsaw in hand. In real life though, it is extremely dangerous to the chainsaw user.
8. Do not saw above shoulder level.
As much as possible, cut below shoulder level. It helps to ensure proper grip, handling, and control of the chainsaw. It also helps to protect the head in the occurrence of a kickback.
Another thing not often considered is shoulder fatigue. If using the chainsaw below shoulder level, then switching it off when you get tired will be easy. When using it above shoulder level however, then there’s every chance of a mistake happening.
9. Do not play around with a chainsaw.
As fun as it might appear, playing around with a chainsaw is very unsafe. Teach people around you, especially children to act responsibly and not toy around with a chainsaw.
If anything, a tool like a chainsaw should not be within reach of anyone not trained in using it. So while you might know not to play around with your chainsaw, it is important that you keep it in a safe place so no one else can.
10. Finally, do not leave the chainsaw around when you are done.
With that said, store your chainsaws properly after use to prevent injuries to unsuspecting persons especially kids. Like the majority of other equipment, it should be stored in a well-ventilated and dry place.