The chainsaw is an amazingly effective tool, but it can also be dangerous if used improperly. To avoid accidents and unnecessary strain, you should use the correct working techniques, the best possible training and safety documentation.
Chainsaws produce a lot of vibration, both from the engine and from the process of cutting. Chainsaws with combustible engines produce toxic exhaust fumes. The gasoline-oil mixture can catch on fire if spilled while filling a hot engine
Basic Rules for Working With a Chainsaw
PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT
- Wear eye protection that is CSA or ANSI approved. A face shield may be required.
- Use gloves, a hard hat, safety boots, earplugs or earmuffs, and leg protection.
- Never wear loose clothing, unbuttoned jackets, flared sleeves and cuffs, scarves, tie strings, cords, chains, jewelry, etc. when operating a chainsaw.
- Always refer to the Manufacturer’s spec, Safe Work Practice and Safe Job Procedure for full PPE requirements.
- Always follow the manufacturer’s maintenance instructions for your specific chainsaw. Keep a copy of the owner’s manual on hand.
- Inspect the chainsaw before using it. Make sure that the guide bar is tight, the chain is snug, the machine is lubricated, and the teeth are sharp. Check the drive links, sprockets, chain catch, and cutters for damage. Run the saw at half throttle and apply the chain brake to make sure it works properly.
- Never use a chainsaw that has damaged parts.
- Never alter any of the safety features such as the chain brake, throttle trigger interlock, ramped depth gauges, etc.
- Make sure the ratio of gas to oil meets the manufacturer’s recommendations.
- Only competent & trained employees should be utilizing a chainsaw.
- During start-up, keep everyone at least six feet away, place the chainsaw on solid ground, and secure it with one foot in the rear handle. Grasp the top handle with one hand, apply the chain brake, and set the throttle lock. Pull the recoil handle towards your chest.
- Never “drop start” or “throw start” a chainsaw and do not let the cord snap back to the starter. Let it idle for a minute or two to warm up.
- Hold the saw firmly with both hands and keep your feet firmly planted before you start to cut. Stand to the left of the saw and hold your left arm straight. Activate the throttle with your right hand. (Reverse for left-handed saws.
- Never pull the chainsaw blade towards you and do not operate it above shoulder height.
- Apply the chain brake and shut the motor off before setting the chainsaw down or moving it long distances. Allow it to cool off.
- The chain must not be rotating when you are moving to another spot. Use a bar guard to cover the chain when carrying or transporting it. Carry the saw facing downwards and to your side with the bar point behind you.
- During transit, use a carrying case if possible and secure it to prevent movement. Never transport a chainsaw in the passenger’s seat of a vehicle. Where possible, transport it in a well vented cabinet or in the open air.
- Make sure that no one is closer to you than 3 – 5 metres when working with a chainsaw. During tree felling, a greater safety distance is required.
- Avoid working alone: If there are two or more of you, you can help each other if something were to happen. Tell someone where you will be during the day. Give your contact person (a designated person) your route and your location, e.g. with GPS coordinates. Always carry a mobile phone or communications radio and keep in regular contact with your contact person at least every three hours. Always have a transport vehicle in the forest and always park the vehicle so that you can quickly leave the area. Observe all other safety procedures carefully
BEAWRE AWARE OF KICKBACKSThe kickback zone is the upper part of the nose of the guide bar. Sawing with this part of the guide bar poses a significant risk for a kickback, in which the chain will grip the timber and the saw and blade are thrown backward and upwards by the force of the rotating chain. A kickback can be very dangerous and you need to understand:
- Kickback can occur during most work procedures if the saw is not handled carefully. This is why it is essential for you to learn and use correct saw technique.
- Always use a chainsaw with a working chain brake.
- Thumbs and fingers must be completely wrapped around the handles. Always keep your left thumb under the front handle when you use the saw to catch the saw in case of kickback.
To prevent kickback, cut only one thing at a time. Use the bumper spike to rest the chainsaw on top of what you are cutting and allow the sharp teeth of the chain and the power of the engine to do the cutting. Do not force it. Bring the saw to full operating speed before starting the cut. If you feel resistance or need to apply extra pressure to cut, the chain may be dull. Using a dull chain is not only a safety hazard, but it also increases your risk of developing hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS).
Chainsaws are efficient tools that can make life a lot easier, but they can be extremely dangerous if not properly maintained or used properly. If your company needs Safe Work Practices, Safe Job Procedures, inspections for chainsaw use, please head to our website. If you are looking to train workers check out the courses we offer.