Safety Tips

Chainsaws

The Amateur at Home

Many people use chainsaws away from work to cut up firewood or to take down a tree. This limited experience does not qualify you as an expert in certain situations. If you're taking down a tree, ensure that there is room for the tree to fall. If it gets caught on other trees, it can roll off the branches or snap them, trapping you, the "amateur. Never work under a "hung-up" tree. Experts can predict where a tree will fall and how the cut end will move off the stump. They know when to step aside. What looks easy requires much practice and often years of experience. If you plan to use a chainsaw to cut down a tree at home:

  • Notify the proper authorities so they can make sure you will not hit power lines, roads or buildings
  • Decide what direction the tree will fall and clear the area of debris
  • Warn family and others to stay well back from the whole area
  • Clear an escape path for the faller to the rear of the tree being felled away from the direction of the fall
  • Other workers, except the faller must remain at a distance of not less than the height of the tallest tree away from the area where the felling is taking place

Protection and Prevention

As a wise worker, you know the limitations of the chainsaw. You also know that wearing the right personal protective equipment (PPE) is the only thing that might prevent an injury if a mistake has been made. Occupational Health & Safety legislation and manufacturer's specifications recommend protection for your head, ears, eyes, face, hands, legs and feet. Safety-wise workers and companies tackle safety from all angles. Wearing the right safety equipment, proper use and maintenance of chainsaws, and following safety procedures is the best way to ensure a good safety record all around.

Chainsaws in Construction

Chainsaws and other portable power tools are very useful in the construction industry. But in order to truly save time, effort and money, chainsaws must be operated safely, efficiently and according to manufacturer's specifications. Accidents involving chainsaws are frequent. Most injuries occur when the operator makes contact with the chain or when the object being cut falls on the operator. In many cases, these kinds of accidents can be easily avoided. Following basic safety procedures will help reduce injuries.

Before You Start

Make sure you know all the operating procedures for the chainsaw you use by reading the manufacturer's specifications. Find out the answers to any questions before you start. An unsure operator is an unsafe operator. Inspect the saw careful. Watch for:

  • A dull chain
  • A bent guide bar
  • Loose nuts and bolts
  • Cracked or worn housing
  • Loose or broken handles
  • Leaking gas or oil caps

Don't us the chainsaw if it's not up to standard.

Safety for Starters

Review the starting procedures and controls for the model you are using. Be sure you are confident before you start it. Mix gasoline and engine oil according to manufacturer's recommendations. Don't fuel the saw if it is still hot from previous use.

Before Starting:

  • Wear the right personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Make sure the chain is sharp, undamaged, and that nothing is caught in the teeth or components
  • Make sure the chain is tight

While Starting:

  • Hold the saw firmly on the ground with the chain away from your body and clear of any obstructions
  • Use a quick, sharp motion on the starting cord
  • Hold the saw firmly with one foot on the footplate (bottom of rear handle) and one hand on the top handle (not the chain break)

Before Use:

  • When the saw is running, check to make sure it idles smoothly without the chain turning
  • If the saw runs rough of if the chain turns, stop the saw and adjust the idle or have it repaired
  • Then, run the saw at top speed - without cutting. Kick in the chain break to make sure it works. If it does not kick in, have the saw repaired before using it.

Cutting with the Chainsaw

Following basic safety rules and common sense will allow you to enjoy your daily work. Going at a steady pace with your focus on safety will please you and your boss. Follow basic safety practices:

  • Never work alone
  • Always hold the saw with both hands
  • Operate the saw at full throttle at all times
  • Never cut above shoulder height
  • Don't cut with the toe of the guide bar
  • Keep the chain lubricated
  • If the chain loosens, stop the saw and adjust it
  • Use a scabbard or bar guard whenever the saw is not in use
  • Shut off the saw when carrying it more than a short distance
  • Carry the saw with the bar to the rear
  • Keep your work area clear of branches and other objects to avoid kickback

Kickback

Kickback is the upward motion of the guide bar. It's sudden, unexpected and dangerous. Guarding against kickback requires your special attention. Follow legislation and manufacturer's recommendations. Work with your co-workers to get the job done right - and safe.

For more information, refer to current applicable Occupational Health and Safety Legislation.