How to Use a Chainsaw Safely

Aug 17, 2018 | Blog

When using any type of chainsaw, you will always be at risk. After all, you are operating a tool that has been connected together with the word massacre in an actual film. If you are using a machine that can cut you in two, it is extremely essential to practice safety measures. It is also vital to cover all these safety practices since you can also endanger the lives of those around you while working with a chainsaw. Several manufacturers of chainsaws have been designing safer unit, however, the safety function cannot cover all bases.

If you decide to stay away from these safety measures, tell us how it went. (That is if you are still alive and if your body parts are all intact!) Even the most macho of all machos will agree that when dealing with chainsaws, you simply can’t wing it.

There are several ways in which you may practice this safety measure, it may come with having a full set of personal protective equipment, it also rather vital to ensure that you have a complete set of safety gears attached to your chainsaw, safety measure can also come with being aware of your surroundings especially when you are working on elevated grounds, and safety can also come with your capacity and knowledge in handling your chosen unit.

When it comes to the risks attached to chainsaw injury, numbers don’t lie. According to an insurance company that specializes in loggers insurance, the Davis-Garvin Insurance Agency, the average chainsaw injury requires 110 stitches while the average corresponding medical costs of a chainsaw related injury in the year 2000 were estimated to be at least $12,000 per case. According to several different studies, the most common chainsaw injury affects the leg area, followed closely by injuries involving the arm.

In an even deeper analysis of how you can operate your chainsaw safely, I will provide you with several explanations on how you can further your safety.

Safety Precautions

safetyFirst, only operate a chainsaw that you can easily hold and control. If your chainsaw is too heavy and too bulky for you, put it down. You won’t be able to handle that equipment properly, especially when you work with that chainsaw for a long period of time. When handling dangerous equipment, it is rather essential to be comfortable with your unit and be familiar with all the functions, buttons, and switch that come with it. Nevertheless, if you are experiencing fatigue, it is best to stop working since it is easier to mishandle a chainsaw when your body is tired. The vibrations and noise produced by the chainsaw can add to the chaos, so it is vital to have a focused mind when operating your unit. It might be safer to check the weather conditions in the area since you would not wish to work when the winds are blowing strongly. You may also check for other people, animals, or vehicles situated near your working area.

Second, a gasoline-powered chainsaw also carries a higher danger since you are also at risk of starting a fire since you are dealing with the task of mixing fuel and oil. Store the petrol that you will be using on a safe and high-quality container. It is essential to distance your chainsaw at least 10 feet away from any source of smoke or ignition and if you are using gas, always have a fire extinguisher at bay. Another point to remember is that you should never refuel a working chainsaw or a unit that is hot. When you are using an electric chainsaw, you might wish to check if your extension cord is locked tightly and check how far it can allow you to work.

Before you start working on the chainsaw, check if the unit is adjusted in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. It is essential to have a properly assembled chainsaw that has fully functional and secure components. Always check the unit’s controls and chain tension, along with all the bolts and handles. Moreover, check the sharpness of the chain since a dull chain will be likely to stay stuck in a log and will increase the chance of the occurrence of a kickback. Always check your chain if it is clear of any barrier and if you are certain that your chainsaw is ready to be used, you need to be sure that your footing is secure and balanced so you can easily control the chainsaw. When everything is set, you may now engage your chainsaw.

Safety Function

safetyWhen it comes to serious chainsaw injuries, kickback is one of the common causes. By its definition, kickback happens when the moving chain at the nose or tip of the guide bar touches an object, or when the wood closes in and pinches the chain in the cut and this can result in a sudden reverse reaction, kicking the guide bar up and back to the user. Be sure that the unit which you are using can reduce chainsaw kickback.

Newer models of chainsaw are designed with several safety devices that are meant to decrease the risk of injury from kickback. The following functions are some of the safety features that you should be familiar with before operating a chainsaw:

  • Chain brake – This works by applying a steel brake band around the driven clutch drum to stop the motion of the saw’s cutting chain. This function safely secures the chain when switching positions, but this might require the user to slightly open the throttle. When a chainsaw works without the chain brake, this would lead to uncontrolled chain movement. The chain brake can set in motion under kickback conditions to ensure that the operator can avoid being smacked by the running chain.
  • Right-hand guard –This is engineered as an added protection for the user’s hand, in the event that a chain should shatter or derail. This is best used for colder engines and larger saws.
  • Centrifugal Clutch– Part of the clutch’s function is to extricate when the engine is not working in order for the chain to stop running since it connects the engine and the chain. However, when the engine is turned on, the clutch also engages so that the chain can begin cutting.
  • Chain Catcher – This component that is situated at the bottom part of the chainsaw is an essential safety feature since it impedes the chain from being thrown back towards the user when the chain is destroyed or when it comes loose from its track.
  • Safety throttle – This is a button which is located near the rear handle of the chainsaw, that has to be pressed in order for the throttle and chain to engage. Along with the dead man’s switch, a trigger linked to the throttle that is held down when the machine is used and can activate the chain break when released, it prevents accidental starting of the unit.
  • Anti-vibration handle – This is engineered to limit the intense vibrations caused by operating a chainsaw. With this technology, you don’t need to be afraid of the effects brought about by the vibration like the negative results that it has on your blood circulation or developing white finger.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Another way to reduce the risk of a chainsaw injury is to wear PPE, Personal Protective Equipment, from your head to your toes. Several protective gears are created to maximize your level of protection and it is important that you use them when operating any type of hazardous equipment. It is also important that the PPE that you will use is of high quality because otherwise, the low-quality protective equipment might not guarantee your safety.


headFor the head area, the most common protective gear is the hard hat. When working with a chainsaw, this is essential as it protects your skull area from injuries. It is also important that anyone who is located near someone who is operating the chainsaw will also wear a hard hat. Another body part that you should always protect is the eye since small objects are going to fly around like the wood chips and sawdust and this can damage the operator’s eye.

You should also protect your nasal area since working with chainsaws can emit certain smells of dust, smoke, and gas fumes that can eventually affect your respiratory system. Since the chainsaw will be likely to produce loud noises, you may also want to use hearing protection. These are the following gears that are necessary when protecting your face: safety glasses, face and side shields, and eye goggles.


Your hand will be the part of your body that will be directly connected to the chainsaw while working, so you have to boots-and-glovealways wear gloves and mitts. This can protect you from chainsaw cuts and it can lessen the effect of the chainsaw vibration on your hands.


Since the foot and leg injury are the most common kind of chainsaw injury, you should really comply with the PPE for foot and leg protection. For your leg, be sure to wear trousers or pants that have a sewn-in ballistic nylon pad and can be worn up to the belt line, since this provides more protection than pants that have a lower cut. On the other hand, the best way to protect your foot is to wear boots that are made of ballistic nylon.

Additional Tip

When working with chainsaws, be certain that someone is around to help you and this person should also wear protective gear. If you choose to work alone with a chainsaw, be sure that someone knows where you are going and how long you plan to work.

In conclusion, protecting yourself while operating a chainsaw might seem like a tedious task. However, your safety should always be the first priority. Do not skimp on securing yourself from a chainsaw, this might cost you a leg or an arm or your life.

John McDonald

Chainsaw Expert for

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