A chainsaw is one of the most notorious and fearsome tools in existence. They have enormous destructive potential – and they deserve to be treated with the utmost respect.
If you’re using a chainsaw at work, then you’ll need to be appropriately trained and licenced. The exact form that your training will take depends on the industry you’re working in – but the purpose is to acquaint you with the tool and what it can do in a way that’s gradual and safe.
Training isn’t mandatory if you’re using the tool domestically, in your home and garden. Obviously, it’s still highly recommended that you seek out the right training and guidance, since doing so will help you to avoid common mistakes and to minimise the likelihood of a disastrous injury occurring.
If you’re wielding a chainsaw, then there are various types of safety equipment that you’ll need to wear. These should ideally offer a level of protection that doesn’t compromise your ability to effectively wield the tool.
A helmet is usually considered the most important piece of Personal Protective Equipment. It’ll protect you in the event of kickback. Ideally, your helmet should also come with eye protection. Sawing timber can create large splinters, which can shoot in any direction, including into your face. Bear in mind also that many chainsaw workers are sawing at height – and that a helmet will also protect you during a fall.
You should also consider the impact of prolonged exposure to loud noise. Most chainsaws operate at between 106 and 115 decibels. If you want to avoid hearing loss, then you should be wearing substantial hearing protection.
Battery-powered cordless chainsaws are gradually replacing the more traditional petrol-driven ones. They tend to be better for the environment while limiting vibration and kickback. They also tend to be much safer. There’s no need to carry around an engine or to trail a long cord behind you (which might result in a trip hazard).
Kickback occurs when the nose of the guide bar contacts a piece of timber without cutting through it. This will push the chain backwards toward the operator. Many modern chainsaws come with a safety feature which guards against this, called a chain brake. Whatever saw you’re using, it’s a good idea to keep both hands firmly on the saw, and to anticipate kickback before it occurs.
Every session should start with a thorough check of the saw to see that it’s working properly. While you’re sawing, it’s important to pay attention to how easy it is. If you’re struggling, it might be that the saw needs to be sharpened. This is something you can do yourself – though professional help might be worth seeking.