and health risks
Major hazards associated with chainsaws are:
Physical contact with the blade, which
may result in severe injury to different parts of the body
Exhaust fumes which contain
High noise levels
Anyone using a chainsaw needs to have received
adequate training and be competent in the use of the chainsaw. Read
the manufacturer’s manual carefully.
Some dangerous operations, such as felling trees
on steep slopes or unstable ground, should only be undertaken by
General safety tips for safe operation:
- Always check equipment before use
- Never use chainsaws above shoulder height
- Ensure someone is within calling distance
- Never cut material other than wood with
- Match the size of the saw and bar with
the material being cut
- Work in well-ventilated areas only
- Do not operate a chainsaw in wet or windy
conditions or in poor light
- Always wear suitable personal
Suitable personal protective equipment (PPE) should always
be worn – no matter how small the job.Wear the following PPE when operating a chainsaw:
Footwear: Boots with steel toe caps. Lace-up boots
must be securely tied
Leg protection: safety trousers or chaps
Hearing protection: earmuffs rated Grade 4
Eye protection: goggles or helmet visor.
Remember: No PPE can ensure 100% protection against cutting by a
See also: Personal
protective equipment for more detailed information.
Kickback is the sudden, unexpected upward and backward movement of the
chain and guide bar. This can occur when the end part of the guide bar
nose strikes a solid object. Kickback may result in serious or fatal
Proper maintenance will reduce the effect of kickback. To reduce the
risk of kickback follow safe operating techniques:
Hold the chainsaw firmly with both hands. Grip the handles
with the fingers and thumb. Never use the saw with one hand!
Keep both feet firmly planted in a balanced position.
Position your body to the side of the intended cut in case of
Maintain engine speed as you cut. Reduce speed when the cut is
Regularly check chain tension.
There are three different types of cutting action: down cut,
up cut and the boring cut. See A
guide to safety with chainsaws (OSH) for detailed
Watch the guide bar nose and do not let it come in contact
with any object
Hold the saw firmly with both hands. Keep the left thumb under
the front handle
Do not over reach or cut about shoulder height
Ensure the safety devices such as the chain brake are working
Cut only one piece at a time.
and Figures about Chainsaw Injuries
According to the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission
there were over 28,500 chain saw injuries in 1999. More than 36%
were injuries to the legs and knees.
The average chainsaw injury requires 110 stitches and the
average medical cost was $ 5,600.00 in 1989. Data according to The
Davis Garvin Agency, an insurance underwriter specializing in
loggers insurance. In year 2000 corresponding costs can be estimated
to be over $12,000.00.
Medical costs for chainsaw injuries based on these facts
amount to about 350 million dollars per year.
Workman's compensation costs, based on the assumption that
four weeks recovery is required, can be estimated at 125 million
Loss of production as well as loss of quality of life for
the injured can not be adequately quantified, but may in fact
represent the single largest cost.
There are 69,000 professional loggers in the U.S.. The
cost of equipping all of them with one pair of chainsaw chaps at
approximately $75.00 each would result in a total annual expense of
five million dollars.
There are few situations where safety has a more immediate
payback than in the logging industry.