Wood burning stoves are commonly used to heat homes or businesses because it is a cheaper alternative to other heating systems, especially for those who have quick access to standing timber. Growing up in rural, Northwest Ohio, my family used a wood burning stove to heat both our shop and our basement during the winter. The process to cut enough wood for both the winter months and for our summer campfires meant firing up our chainsaws and cutting for most of the day to make sure we had enough to last all year. I remember thinking that if it wasn’t for the ability to use a chainsaw, the process of cutting down trees for firewood would be a lot less enjoyable.
In addition to using chainsaws for cutting firewood, many business owners and contractors use chainsaws to trim back trees that are hanging over buildings, power lines, or areas overgrown with vegetation. Chainsaw safety is often overlooked when performing these jobs. However, incorporating a few important safety measures when using a chainsaw can help prevent serious injury to yourself or others.
Below are some basic recommendations offered by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) that are key in preventing injuries or issues that arise from chainsaw use. OSHA recommends the following steps be taken:
Before Starting a Chainsaw
- Check controls, chain tension, and all bolts and handles to ensure that they are functioning properly and that they are adjusted according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Make sure that the chain is always sharp and the lubrication reservoir is full.
- Start the saw on the ground or on another firm support. Drop starting is never allowed.
- Start the saw at least 10 feet from the fueling area, with the chain’s brake engaged.
- Clear away dirt, debris, small tree limbs, and rocks from the saw’s chain path. Look for nails, spikes, or other metal in the tree before cutting.
- Shut off the saw or engage its chain brake when carrying the saw on rough or uneven terrain.
- Keep your hands on the saw’s handles and maintain secure footing while operating.
- Proper personal protective equipment must be worn when operating the saw, which includes hand, foot, leg, eye, face, hearing, and head protection.
- Do not wear loose-fitting clothing.
- Be careful that the trunk or tree limbs will not bind against the saw.
- Watch for branches under tension, they may spring out when cut.
- Gasoline-powered chain saws must be equipped with a protective device that minimizes chainsaw kickback.
- Never attempt to fuel a running or hot saw.
- Be cautious of saw kick-back. To avoid kick-back, do not saw with the tip. If equipped, keep tip guard in place.
The above list is by no means an exhaustive set of recommendations, but are good first steps to take before beginning a job that requires a chainsaw. Following these safety precautions may be what it takes to protect yourself or others from serious injury.
Chainsaw safety tips were provided by:
United States Department of Labor. “Chain Saw Safety.”