Chainsaw Safety

Chainsaws can save a lot of time and effort when used safely. Many chain-saw accidents happen because users do not follow the manufacturer’s instructions and do not understand the saw’s hazards. A chain saw in the hands of an inexperienced or careless operator can be dangerous to the user and other workers. Chainsaws can make quick work of cutting a limb off a tree... or a part off your body. Here is an overview of a few steps we can take to help avoid some hazards of working with chainsaws.

  • Always remain a safe distance away from sparks, flames, and any other potential sources of ignition when adding gasoline to a chainsaw.
  • Also make certain the engine, muffler, and all other components of the saw are cooled down before refueling.
  • And, of course, smoking is NEVER allowed during refueling, either!

Always inspect your chainsaw before use to make sure of the following, where applicable:

  • All screws and bolts must be tight and secure, and all covers are secured in place
  • Insure there are no leaks on any fluid reservoirs, caps, hoses or connections (such as for fuel, oil, and chain lube)
  • Check that the chain is set and maintained at the correct tension, per manufacturer’s recommendations
  • Make sure there is adequate chain lube in the reservoir
  • Make certain the muffler is in place and free of damage or deterioration
  • Insure the tip guard is in place on the saw, and that the chain brake is functioning properly (where equipped).

Wear all personal protective equipment (PPE) needed to protect yourself when using the saw.

PPE requirements may vary depending on operations being conducted, but could include:

  • Safety glasses or goggles.
  • Tight-fitting gloves.
  • Ear plugs or muffs.
  • A hard hat.
  • Safety boots.
  • Arm and leg protection.

Starting a Chainsaw

  • Keep everyone at least six feet away from you.
  • Place the chainsaw on solid ground and secure it with one foot in the rear handle. Grasp the top handle with your left hand, apply the chain brake, and set the throttle lock. Pull the recoil handle towards your chest.
  • Never “drop start” or “throw start” a chainsaw.
  • Don’t let the cord snap back to the starter.
  • Let the chainsaw idle for a minute or two to warm up.

Operating a Chainsaw

  • Chainsaw SafetyHold the saw firmly with both hands and keep your feet firmly planted before you start to cut.
  • Stand to the left of the saw and hold your left arm straight. Activate the throttle with your right hand.
  • To prevent kickback, cut only one thing at a time. Use the bumper spike to rest the chainsaw on top of what you’re cutting and allow the sharp teeth of the chain and the power of the engine to do the cutting. Don’t force it.
  • Bring the saw to full operating speed before starting the cut. If you feel resistance or you need to apply extra pressure in order to cut, the chain may be dull. Using a dull chain is not only a safety hazard, but it also increases your risk of developing hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS).
  • Never pull the chainsaw blade towards you.
  • Don’t operate a chainsaw above shoulder height.

Transporting a Chainsaw

  • Apply the chain brake and shut the motor off before setting the chainsaw down or moving it long distances.
  • Allow the chainsaw to cool off.
  • Use a bar guard to cover the chain when carrying or transporting it.
  • Carry the saw facing downwards and to your side with the bar point behind you.
  • During transit, use a carrying case if possible and make sure it’s secured to prevent it from moving.
  • Never transport a chainsaw in the passenger’s seat of a vehicle.
  • Where possible, transport the chainsaw in a well-vented cabinet or in the open air.