10 Safety Tips Every Chainsaw User Should Know
Chainsaws are very commonly used and effective tools. When it comes to cutting through though materials in a hurry, nothing beats the power of a chainsaw. Chainsaws are used in many industries, and in ones like forestry, they are likely used daily by workers. Even outside the workplace, chainsaws are an easily accessible tool for the average person trying to prepare firewood for their home.
However, with great power comes great responsibility. Chainsaws are not a tool you should just bring home, unbox and start using without any experience. Even for the pros, don’t allow yourself to become overly comfortable with chainsaws – they are a tool that if used incorrectly, could result in serious injury.
The best way to ensure you are using a chainsaw correctly and safely is to take a chainsaw safety course. This is just one of many courses offered at the Hercules Training Academy! Learn more about the course by clicking here.
In this blog, we’ll go over some general safety tips that could prevent injuries when operating a chainsaw. Consider this the ‘sprinkles on top’ of an already established trained knowledge on the tool, so remember, Nobody wants a big bowl of just sprinkles—Get trained!
General Chainsaw Safety
- Read the manufacturer owner’s manual carefully. Every chainsaw is different so don’t assume you can skip this step if you’ve used a chainsaw before.
- Review health and safety legislation on chainsaw operation in your area. Some jurisdictions have certain requirements when operating a chainsaw, including different types of PPE like cut-resistant footwear or leg guards.
- Inspect your chainsaw before starting. Ensure that all safety features are working and the chain is tight on the guide bar.
- Understand your limits. If you’re an at-home chainsaw user, don’t let your ego get in that way of calling a professional for a job that seems out of your depth. And, if you are a professional, don’t be afraid to request extra assistance for large jobs, and don’t allow yourself to be pressured to speed through a job to meet a too-tight deadline.
- Always wear personal protective equipment (PPE). Always wear the following PPE:
- Eye Protection – Safety glasses with side shields, safety goggles, and face shields approved by CAN/CSA Standard z94.3-15: Eye and Face Protectors.
- Gloves and Mitts – Leather gloves with ballistic nylon reinforcement on the back offer the best grip on the saw and absorbs some vibration which provides protection to the hands. Leather gloves also prevent cuts when sharpening the saw.
- Foot Protection – Heavy, well-fitted, safety work boots approved by CAN/CSA Standard z195-14 (R2019): Protective Footwear. In addition to the regular required safety boots, chain saw operators should consider wearing boots made from cut-resistant materials that offer protection from contact with running chain saws (this is required in some jurisdictions).
- Head Protection – A hard hat in a highly visible color, approved by CSA Standard Z94.1-15: Industrial Protective Headwear.
- Leg Protection – Pants or chaps with sewn-in ballistic nylon pads, preferably ones that extend to the beltline rather than ones that stop at the upper thigh as they provide extra protection. All clothing worn while operating a chainsaw should be well-fitted, without cuffs, and made of close-woven fabrics.
- Fall Protection – If working at a height (necessary if above 10ft), fall protection equipment like body belts, harnesses and lanyards should be used. Need fall protective equipment? We’ve got you covered!
- Do not cut alone. Always have someone nearby if something goes wrong. If you have a team working spread out on a project, ensure everyone knows where everyone else is and who’s closest to them if they need to reach out for help.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Only operate a chainsaw outside or in a well-ventilated area. Be aware of weather conditions, terrain, wildlife, buildings, power lines, vehicles, and other people.
- Only operate saws when you are well-rested. Fatigue causes carelessness—If using a chainsaw on the job, be extra cautious before breaks and at the end of your shift.
- Don’t use a chainsaw on a ladder or climb a tree with your chainsaw if not professionally trained to do so. Consider buying a pole saw if you’re trying to complete jobs like trimming high-up branches.
- Ask questions, be safe. If you have any doubts about doing the job safely, seek out the proper protocol before continuing. Varying safety procedures may be necessary or required depending on the job at hand (e.g. working at a height, or presence of trip, slip, snag or fall hazards). You should also have a first aid kit nearby at all times when operating a chainsaw.
Just as a bit of a bonus, we broke down some do’s and don’ts when cutting with a chainsaw and tips to fuel up! Hopefully these coupled with our off the chain training course will have you equipped with all the knowledge you need to get the job done well, and most importantly, safe.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Cutting With a Chainsaw
- Plan each job before you start. If you’re unsure what to do next, turn off your chainsaw and come up with a plan before continuing.
- Hold and carry the chainsaw by its front handle, with the muffler away from your body and the guard bar pointing behind you.
- Use the correct saw—Proper weight, power and bar length should match the job at hand.
- Operate the chain saw in a firm two-handed grip with fingers and thumb surrounding the handles. Always keep both feet firmly positioned.
- Maintain full power throughout the entire cut.
- Ensure the chain does not move when the chain saw is idling.
- Keep your saw clean- free of sawdust, dirt, and oil.
- Start a chainsaw when it is resting against any part of your body.
- Stand directly behind the saw.
- Leave a saw running unattended.
- Carry a chainsaw while it’s running.
- Make contact with the muffler—This may cause serious skin burns.
- Cut with the nose or tip of your chainsaw – this will cause kickback and can lead to serious injury.
Tips for Fueling a Chainsaw
- Follow the manufacturer’s directions for what oil/gas mixture should be used for your specific model.
- Only use safety containers for storing and dispensing fuel.
- Do not refuel a running or hot saw – always allow it to cool down before refueling.
- Ensure you are at least 3 meters (10 ft) from sources of ignition before dispensing fuel. Do not smoke or be around smokers while refueling.
- Use a funnel or spout for pouring and wipe away any spills.
- Mix fuel in a well-ventilated area and keep a well-maintained fire extinguisher nearby.
Remember, the best way to ensure you are using a chainsaw correctly and safely is to take a chainsaw safety course. Through our Hercules Training Academy, we offer an extensive suite of high-quality safety training and certification courses. Whether you’re looking for initial or refresher training, we provide practical, hands-on courses designed to exceed the minimum safety requirements. Learn more about the Chainsaw Safety course by clicking here.