Safety Tips Injury prevention Power tools Seasonal safety: Fall Seasonal safety: Spring Seasonal safety: Summer Seasonal safety: Winter

Using a chainsaw safely

Image: Josef Mohyla/iStockphoto

A chain saw’s revving sound is unmistakable, and using one is “inherently hazardous,” according to OSHA. In fact, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that roughly 36,000 people are treated annually in emergency rooms for chain saw-related injuries.

Before starting a chain saw, it’s important to follow a few rules, OSHA states. First, check the controls, chain tension, and all bolts and handles to be sure that everything is in good working order according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Then, check that the chain is sharp and has enough lubrication.

When you’re ready to begin, set the chain saw on the ground – never drop-start it. Turn the tool on at least 10 feet away from a fueling area.

When fueling a gas-powered chain saw, refrain from smoking. Use a funnel to pour fuel into the chain saw, and never fuel the tool when it is hot.

Other general safety tips from OSHA include:

  • Keep the path the chain saw will take clear. Remove any dirt, debris, nails, small tree limbs or pieces of metal before cutting.
  • Use the saw’s chain brake (or shut off the chain saw completely) when carrying it over rough or uneven terrain.
  • Operate the chain saw only when you have secure footing, and keep your hands on the handles.
  • Wear necessary personal protective equipment, including hand, foot, leg, eye, face, head and hearing protection.
  • Never wear loose clothing when operating a chain saw.
  • Be aware that branches under tension may spring out quickly when cut.
  • Be careful not to let tree trunks or limbs bind against the saw.
  • Know the saw may kick back, and never saw with the tip. If one is equipped, keep the tip guard in place.

Post a comment to this article

Safety+Health welcomes comments that promote respectful dialogue. Please stay on topic. Comments that contain personal attacks, profanity or abusive language – or those aggressively promoting products or services – will be removed. We reserve the right to determine which comments violate our comment policy. (Anonymous comments are welcome; merely skip the “name” field in the comment box. An email address is required but will not be included with your comment.)