Power tools all have the tendency to be dangerous and if not used in a safe manner, can result in serious injuries to both the user and to people close to him/her during the application. Also, if you don’t have any experience whatsoever when it comes to chainsaws, this might lead to grave injuries. This is why it is so important to know and apply all the safety guidelines before embarking on this task.
According to reports by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 36,000 injuries that are chainsaw related occur each year in the US. Also, on average, 110 stitches are needed for each injury – with medical bills in the $5,000 region (and more).
Chainsaw related injuries can include lacerations and cuts to the head, torso and legs. In a lot of cases, they can even be fatal. However, the most recurring danger comes from falling branches and trees. This can also lead to serious injuries.
Before deciding to purchase a chainsaw, it is highly recommended for you to attend a fundamental chainsaw operation course at least. Courses like these are available for nominal fees in different areas in numerous countries.
With the completion of a chainsaw course, you would’ve learnt fundamental knowledge and skills that are needed to safely use a chainsaw. Courses like these will normally include basic things like chainsaw assembly as well as more complex things like how to cut firewood or fell a tree. The course should also inform you of the right safety equipment that will be needed.
The people with the most risk when it comes to chainsaw injuries are those casual users who reside in ranches, smallholdings and farms. This is because a lot of them have not attended or received any type of chainsaw related training. Most of them might be able to operate a saw for basic tasks, but they don’t have the training or know-how for the more complex ones.
Professional arborists and foresters are likelier to have finished comprehensive courses on every aspect concerning chainsaw use. For professions like these, it is normally mandatory for professionals to have finished a certified course to be able to work in that particular field.
Rules for Safely Operating a Chainsaw
- Ensure that the proper maintenance – as per the specifications of the manufacturer – has been carried out on the chainsaw. Make sure the machine is also in good working condition.
- Put on the right protective gear (which will include a helmet equipped with ear protection and a visor, steel toe boots, chainsaw safety chaps or trousers and quality gloves).
- Ensure the chain is rightly tensioned and sharp. Regularly check on the tension.
- Make sure the chain brake is functional.
- Make use of the chain brake whenever you aren’t cutting.
- Turn off the chainsaw’s engine and make use of its scabbard or guard when you want to transport it – even if it’s a short destination.
- Ensure that the oil reservoir is full, with the chain also lubricated properly.
- Be cautious when pouring fuel in the saw. It’s no secret that gas is very flammable. Ensure that the fuel isn’t so close to the exhaust, especially when hot. Store the fuel a considerable distance from where the chainsaw is being used.
- Before you start cutting, ensure that the environment is safe. If you’re felling a tree, make sure to look around for escape routes and if there’s a determined path for the fall of the tree.
- Make sure to tighten the guide bar. If needed, the chain tension should be adjusted.
- The saw should be inspected to see if it is sharp and properly lubricated. If needed, sharpen and lubricate.
- Take a look at the air filter. If required, clean.
- If present, have a look at the spark arrestor. These screens are helpful in reducing fire risks – especially during dry conditions.
- The chain catcher should be inspected. This is helpful in reducing injury risks if the chain breaks or leaves the guide bar.
These are some more points that you should consider when operating a chainsaw:
- Don’t use a chainsaw whenever you’re tired or intoxicated.
- Put on the saw while it is still on the floor. Also, ensure that you engage the chain brake.
- Don’t try to cut anything above the height of your shoulders with the chainsaw.
- While on a ladder, it is advisable that you never use a chainsaw.
- Do not use a chainsaw when the weather is windy.
- It is highly recommended that you don’t use a chainsaw while alone.
- Don’t use the kickback zone of the chain to cut. This might result in serious injury.
- Only use the chainsaw in a well-ventilated area.
If you don’t own all the necessary safety equipment or you feel that you’re not competent enough to operate a chainsaw, it is advisable that you seek a professional arborist’s services.
It should be noted that this guide isn’t meant to be exhaustive as regards a chainsaw’s safe operation. Despite it being quite detailed, there is no way that it can act as a substitute for an actual operators course. Courses like these should be attended and a quick Google search will reveal training courses that are available close to you.