No need to debate that the chainsaw is one of the most dangerous pieces of garden equipment. If you use it incorrectly and do not treat it with respect, the results could be very dangerous. But there is a plethora of health and chainsaw safety tips that can put in place to ensure you, your machine, and the people around you are kept as safe as possible.
The first place to start is the instruction manual which will come with the device. All too often we think we know more than we do – skip through handbook in a hurried desire to get our new gadget up and working. This kind of attitude can only lead to potential accidents and problems. Always read the instruction manual thoroughly before any use whatsoever. The chainsaw is a complex piece of equipment and will warrant good care and maintenance. Much of this work you can do yourself but if you are not used to machinery or if you are in any doubt seek out the advice of a professional.
Before using the chainsaw you need to be clothed correctly for the job:
- Chainsaw Boots – the need here is to protect your feet from dangerous objects on the ground as well as material that is likely to be falling from above which you have cut using the chainsaw. There is also the need of protection from the chainsaw itself. Boots need to be sturdy and preferably with a steel toe-cap.
- Anti-slip chainsaw gloves – will protect you not only from flying material coming back from the blades of the chainsaw but they will also give you a stronger, tighter and safer grip on the machine.
- A helmet – especially useful when working high, a helmet has two functions. It can prevent damage from falling debris and also protect your head if you were to fall.
- Protective eye-glasses – some helmets are available with protective glasses but they can also be bought separately. Either way, they are essential for safety while you are working. Your eyes are very sensitive to tiny particles or sawdust and foliage, as well as large pieces of material so it is imperative to use safety glasses to prevent damage to vision. Face visors (often accessories to helmets) are a good alternative.
- Ear protectors – chainsaws can be powerful and hence can also be very noisy. If using them for a long period of time it is recommended to protect your ears with appropriate head gear.
- Chainsaw trousers – specially made protective chainsaw trousers are now available on the market. They are known as “chap”. They can be bought with protection only at the front of the leg or all around the trouser area. Without the correct safety trouser, you will create hazards for your legs, knees, and hips. They work because there is a special material within the fabric that when cut with the chainsaw, will clog up the chain and stop it working.
Safety Features on your chainsaw.
Many chainsaw accidents have occurred through the “kickback” effect. This is when the saw may come to the end of the run and the gravity forces the machine back and towards the operator. (conversely, it may drag the operator into wood being cut). The kickback bar will stop the blade from turning once it is released from the work it is doing. Other safety features are the fact that the chain is actually isolated from the motor. Your chainsaw will also have a chain brake.
Starting a chainsaw safety
Many accidents have occurred through attempting to do a slovenly “drop-saw technique”. This is when the operator holds the weight of the machine in the air, grasping the starting rope and then dropping the weight of the chainsaw to start it. The correct way is to first of all place the chain brake in the locked/on position, put the throttle in idle position and make sure the choke is on. Now place the chainsaw on the level on the ground where there is no debris. Squatting in a balanced comfortable position, place your toe in the back handle of the chainsaw and then pull on the safety cord.
Holding a chainsaw
You will find on all chainsaws there is a blade guard at the front of the machine to protect your hands from the blade (this is the kickback lock feature). Your hands should always be on this guard whenever the motor is running. Never be tempted to turn the machine at 90 degrees on its side in an attempt manipulate the cutting angle – your hands will not be protected. Also, whenever the motor is running it is imperative that you always hold the machine with two hands using the correct handles. This prevents accidents from kickback or if the clutch were to suddenly become engaged.
Don’t cutting above your height
There is a good chance you will need your chainsaw to fell trees. You will also need it to cut wood into smaller pieces. You may also find yourself in the position where you need to cut branches which are above your height. Don’t. You should never lift the chainsaw above your shoulders. You either need suitable ladders which will raise you to the acquired height or use other equipment to do the work.
Felling a tree with a chainsaw
Whenever felling a tree you should always prepare in great detail beforehand. You need to know exactly how and where it will fall. It needs to fall if possible on the open even ground. You should tell anyone within the vicinity what you are doing and if possible cordon off the area. Children and pets should be indoors. Ensure as well that you have worked out a safety route for yourself (in the opposite direction to which the tree will fall) so you can quickly retire away from the action.