Safety tips for chainsaws
Injuries from chainsaws require the most stitches of any power tool and are known for being particularly gruesome.
Because this is a power tool you really need to understand before using, here are five safety tips for chainsaws.
5 safety tips for chainsaws
Kickback is one of the greatest dangers with chainsaws. This occurs when the chain rotating downward at the nose of the bar hits a surface and causes the bar to swing up suddenly towards the operator. To combat this, a safety brake positioned just in front of a user’s left wrist is essential. When the saw jerks upward, the brake is triggered by the wrist and stops the chain. Inertial brakes can also activate by the jerking force alone without having to make contact with the user’s wrist.
Choose a saw with an active safety brake − some only have plastic guards. Other safety features like low kickback bars and chains, or a nose guard to keep the tip of the bar from contacting wood can be helpful, but the main safety feature is a real brake.
There is a right and wrong way to hold a chain saw. Always use your right hand on the trigger and your left hand on the front handle, otherwise the safety brake won’t work. Train yourself to never release your grip on the saw in the event of a kickback or other sudden unexpected movement. A common chain saw injury is to the user’s left hand resulting from raising his hand to block the saw when it kicks back. With the hand off the front handle, the brake isn’t triggered.
Hold a chainsaw tightly against the wood. Most saws have bumper spikes (also called dogs) to brace the saw against the wood for better control when cutting. Typical cutting done with the bottom of the bar will pull the saw away from you and into the spikes, but cuts made with the top of the bar will push the saw towards you. There is no way to brace the saw against this pushing action so minimize the cuts you make with the top of the bar. If the chain becomes pinched in this cutting position, the saw can knock you over or wrench the running saw from your grip.
Chain saws require specific personal protective equipment. Cut-resistant leg chaps and safety glasses are the bare minimum, but a forestry hard hat with ear muffs and a face screen is preferred. Better yet, add specialized cut-resistant chain saw gloves and boots. Besides stopping debris thrown at your face by the saw, the hard hat would also take the impact of the saw chain in the event of a kickback, rather than your unprotected face.
–By Michael Springer