How to Use a Chainsaw Safely

How to Use a Chainsaw Safely

Chainsaws were once used only in the logging industry, but are now common tools for ranchers, farmers, and homeowners. These modern wonders of cutting are used for clearing land, trimming trees, and cutting firewood. With up to 600 teeth passing a point each second, the chainsaw is one of the most efficient cutting devices ever invented. However, a chainsaw in the hands of an inexperienced or careless operator is a dangerous device. In this blog post, we will discuss how to use a chainsaw safely so that you can avoid injury.

Hazards Associated With Chainsaws

Chainsaws pose a variety of hazards to the user and others in the vicinity. The following is a list of some of the more common dangers:

  • Chainsaws can kick back with great force, which can cause serious injury or even death to the operator.
  • The chain on a chainsaw can break, which can cause the chain to fly off the saw and hit someone.
  • The chain on a chainsaw can become entangled in clothing or other material, which can cause the operator to be pulled into the saw.
  • The engine on a chainsaw can get hot, which can cause burns to the operator or others.
  • Chainsaws can produce a loud noise, which can cause hearing loss.
  • Chainsaws can emit fumes, which can be harmful to the operator or others.
  • Chainsaws can throw debris, which can cause injury to others.
  • Chainsaws can be unstable, which can cause them to tip over and injure the operator or others.
  • The blade on a chainsaw can come into contact with skin, which can cause cuts or other injuries.
  • The teeth on a chainsaw chain can be sharp, which can cause cuts or other injuries.

Main Parts of the Chainsaws

The following is a list of the main parts of the chainsaw:

Chainsaw Safety Hazards and Controls
1Fuel PumpFills carburetor with fuel to simplify starting.
2Twist LockLock for the carburetor box cover.
3Chain BrakeA device to stop the rotation of the chain if activated in a kickback situation by the operator’s hand or by inertia. 
4Oilomatic Saw ChainA loop consisting of cutters, tie straps, and drive links. 
5Guide BarSupports and guides the saw chain.
6Front Chain TensionerPermits precise adjustment of chain tension.
7Side Chain TensionerPermits precise adjustment of chain tension.
8Adjusting WheelPermits precise adjustment of chain tension. 
9Chain SprocketThe toothed wheel that drives the saw chain.
10Chain Sprocket CoverCovers the clutch and the sprocket. 
11Bumper SpikeToothed stop for holding saw steady against the wood.
12Chain CatcherHelps to reduce the risk of operator contact by a chain when it breaks or comes off the bar.
13Decompression ValveReleases compression pressure to make starting easier.
Chainsaw Safety Rules and Tips
20MufflerReduces engine exhaust noise and directs the exhaust gases.
21Starter GripThe grip of the starter, for starting the engine.
22Spark Plug TerminalConnects the spark plug with the ignition wire.
23Oil Filler CapFor closing the oil tank. 
24Fuel Filler CapFor closing the fuel tank. 
25Master Control LeverLever for choke control, starting throttle, run and stop switch positions.
26Throttle Trigger InterlockMust be depressed before the throttle trigger can be activated. 
27Throttle TriggerControls the speed of the engine.
28Front HandleHandlebar for the left hand at front of saw.
29Front Hand GuardProvides protection against projecting branches and helps prevent the left hand from touching the chain if it slips off the handlebar. 
30Rear HandleThe support handle for the right hand is located at or toward the rear of the saw. 
31Rear Hand GuardGives added protection to the operator’s right hand.

Using a Chainsaw Safely: Safety Rules to Follow

Chainsaws are one of the most versatile and useful tools that you can have in your arsenal, but they can also be dangerous. That’s why it’s important to know how to use a chainsaw safely.

Here are some safety rules to follow when using a chainsaw:

1. Read the Owner’s Manual

Using a chainsaw can be dangerous, so it’s important to familiarize yourself with the saw before you start using it. The owner’s manual is a good place to start, as it will give you an overview of how the saw works and its safety features. Pay close attention to the section on safety, as this will help you avoid accidents.

2. Start the Saw Carefully

When you start using your chainsaw, ensure it’s securely held in place and free from any debris. Engage the guide bar so that there are no collisions with anything else on or nearby; then turn off all Meta Data currents before engaging them again once complete!

3. Inspect the Saw Before Use

Before you start using your chainsaw, take a few minutes to inspect it. Make sure that the chain is properly tensioned and that there are no loose parts. In addition, check the oil level and add more if necessary.

4. Stretch and Strengthen Your Body

Working with a chainsaw can put a strain on back muscles. Stretching and strengthening back muscles reduce strain. Stretching and strengthening your back muscles is one way to prevent back pain while using a chainsaw. Stretching helps to lengthen the muscles and reduce tension. Strengthening exercises help build up the muscles, making them better support the spine.

5. Be Careful of Your Surroundings

Anyone who has ever used a chainsaw knows that they are powerful tools that can easily cause serious injuries. For this reason, it is essential to be aware of your surroundings and make sure that there are no people or animals nearby before starting the saw. Even a small slip can result in the saw hitting something or someone you didn’t intend to hit, so it’s always better to err on the side of caution.

6. Wear the Right Clothes

Choose clothing that is close-fitting but not confining. Wear steeltoe boots and a hard hat to protect you from falling branches. Use gloves to prevent cuts and burns and safety glasses to protect your eyes. If you are going to be using a chainsaw for extended lengths of time, it is recommended that you also purchase a good pair of chainsaw safety chaps.

7. Keep Both Hands on the Saw

One of the most important rules of sawing is to always keep both hands on the saw. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s easy to forget when focused on the task. Keeping both hands on the saw helps you maintain control of the tool and prevents accidents. If your hands start to slip, your saw could easily slip as well, leading to injury. So, next time you pick up a saw, make sure to keep both hands firmly in place. It could save you a lot of pain in the long run.

8. Be Familiar with the Saw and All of Its Controls

Be especially familiar with the cut-off switch. Know how to sharpen and lubricate the saw in the field and carry the correct gasoil mixture for the saw engine. Read the user’s manual if one is available; it is designed to help you learn about your saw and how to use it safely.

9. Use the Saw Correctly

When it comes to power tools, it’s important to use the right tool for the job. Trying to force a tool to do something it wasn’t designed for can be ineffective and dangerous. This is especially true for saws. Different types of saws are designed for different purposes, and using the wrong type of saw can result in a subpar finish or, worse, an accident. So, before starting your next project, ensure you have the right type of saw for the job. And if you’re unsure, it’s always better to err on caution and consult a professional.

10. Don’t Cut Above Your Head

Chainsaws are powerful tools that can be very dangerous if used improperly. One of the most important safety rules is avoiding cutting above your head. The weight of the saw, combined with the force of the blade, can easily lead to serious injuries if the saw is not properly supported. If you must cut something above your head, be sure to use a sturdy ladder or other support and take extra care to avoid losing control of the saw.

11. Never Let a Child Operate a Chainsaw. 

Chainsaws are powerful tools that can be very dangerous if used improperly. One of the most important safety rules to remember is to never use a chainsaw in close proximity to a child. The fast-moving chain can easily cause serious injury, and children may not be able to understand the danger of getting too close.

Always keep all observers away from the work area when using the saw, even if they are adults. This is especially important when felling trees, as they can fall in unpredictable directions. Following these simple safety rules can help prevent accidents and injuries.

12. Be Careful of the Kickback

Kickback is one of the most dangerous things that can happen when using a chainsaw. It occurs when the chainsaw tip catches on something and is suddenly forced backwards, towards the operator. The resulting jolt can be severe and even cause the chainsaw to jump out of the operator’s hands. Injuries from kickback are always serious, and they can even be fatal.

The best way to prevent kickback is to avoid putting the tip of the chainsaw near anything that it could catch on. When cutting branches, for example, cut them from the bottom up, so that the branch will fall away from thechainsaw rather than towards it. Kickback is always a risk when using a chainsaw, but if you are aware of it and take steps to avoid it, you can stay safe.

13. Stay Low to the Ground. 

Avoid using a chainsaw when it will be held higher than your waist during operation. It is much easier to get hurt when the chainsaw is held above your waist than when held below it.

14. Shut Off the Saw Properly

When you’re finished using the saw, make sure that you shut it off properly. Don’t just leave it running. If the saw is still running, it can easily cause an accident. Shutting off the saw also helps to prolong its lifespan. When a saw is constantly running, it will eventually overheat and break down. However, it will last much longer if you take the time to shut it off properly after each use. So, next time you finish using a saw, don’t forget to shut it down correctly. It could save your life or the life of someone else.

15. Keep the Saw Sharp

Any experienced woodworker will tell you that a dull saw is more dangerous than a sharp one. A sharp saw cuts cleanly and quickly, with little effort on the user’s part. A dull saw, on the other hand, requires more force to cut through the wood, and is more likely to slip or bind. This can lead to serious injury, as the saw can easily kick back or twist out of control. For this reason, keeping the chain on your saw sharpened is vitally important. Fortunately, this is a relatively easy task that can be done at home with a few simple tools. By taking a few minutes to sharpen the chain before each use, you can help ensure that your saw is always up to the task at hand – and that you stay safe while using it.

16. Get Professional Help If Needed

Chainsaws are a great tool for anyone who needs to do some serious cutting, but they can also be dangerous if used improperly. If you’re not sure how to use a chainsaw or if you’re having trouble with it, the best thing to do is to get professional help. Trying to figure it out on your own could lead to injury, or even worse. Professional chainsaw operators have the training and experience necessary to safely and effectively use the saw and can help you learn how to use it properly.

In addition, they can provide helpful tips and advice on maintaining the saw and keeping it in good working order. So if you’re having trouble with your chainsaw, don’t hesitate to seek out professional help. It could save you a lot of time, hassle, and potentially even your life.

How To Avoid Kickback When Using Chainsaws?

The best protection from personal injury that may result from kickback is to avoid kickback situations:

  • Hold the chain saw firmly with both hands and maintain a secure grip. Don’t let go. 
  • Be aware of the location of the guide bar nose at all times. 
  • Never let the nose of the guide bar contact any object. Do not cut limbs with the nose of the guide bar. Be especially careful near wire fences and when cutting small, tough limbs, small size brush and saplings which may easily catch the saw chain. 
  • Don’t overreach. 
  • Don’t cut above shoulder height. 
  • Begin cutting and continue at full throttle.
  • Cut only one log at a time. 
  • Use extreme caution when reentering a previous cut. 
  • Do not attempt to plunge cut if you are not experienced with these cutting techniques. 
  • Be alert for shifting of the log or other forces that may cause the cut to close and pinch the saw chain. 
  • Maintain saw chain properly. Cut with a correctly sharpened, properly tensioned saw chain at all times. 
  • Stand to the side of the cutting path of the chain saw.
Chainsaw Safety

Chainsaw Maintenance Procedures

As with any mechanical device, a chainsaw requires regular maintenance to keep it running properly. Here are some tips on how to maintain your chainsaw:

Clean/adjust chain tensionEvery use
Check/service the chain oiling systemEvery use
Tighten all hardwareEvery use
Inspect fuel systemEvery use
Inspect the Chain Brake MechanismEvery use
Inspect the Kickback Nose GuardEvery use
Clean or replace the air filterEvery 10 hours of use
Lubricate the sprocket tipEvery 10 hours of use
Turn the guide barEvery 10 hours of use
Inspect and clean/replace the spark plugEvery 10 hours of use
Inspect and clean/replace the spark arrester screenEvery 10 hours of use
Replace the Fuel FilterEvery 10 hours of use
Additional maintenance proceduresAs needed

Chainsaw Safety: Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

The chain moves at 55-60 miles per hour, or about 88 feet per second. The teeth on the chain are designed not to cut but to remove material. Accidental contact with chainsaws often results in serious injuries to operators.

Cuts are not the only hazard a saw user must avoid. Saw operators are often struck by falling limbs and trunks as the tree moves and shifts while it’s cut. Operators fall off ladders and out of trees or trip as they brush over uneven ground. Even when the tree is on the ground, danger lurks in wood under tension. Spring poles snap and logs roll unexpectedly.

A chainsaw operator has three lines of defense: education, good technique, and personal protective equipment (PPE). When the first two fail, PPE can save your life. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that saw operators wear head protection, eye protection, hearing protection, chainsaw chaps or pants, and suitable footwear.

Head Protection

A protective hard hat should be worn whenever you are working in an area where it’s possible that falling objects could cause injury to the head. For tree fellers, that means a hard hat should be worn immediately upon exiting the truck. Branches fall, saws spit objects out of trees, and climbers drop things. Saw operators are often hit on the side and top of the head and would benefit from a helmet with side protection and a chin strap.

A safe helmet has the manufacturer’s name or identification, the date of manufacture, the type and class of helmet, the head size, and “ANSI Z89.1” stamped on the inside. The ANSI number means that the helmet has met all of the safety requirements provided by the American National Standards Institute.

Hard hats wear out. Examine the hat before use. Replace it if there are dents, penetrations, plastic chip flakes, discolorations, or a chalky appearance. Look at the liner. If it’s worn or broken, replace it immediately. Even if the hat looks good, it should be replaced every three to five years or at the manufacturer’s recommendation.

Eye Protection

The face and eyes are soft targets for flying debris ripped out by a chainsaw. While a face guard with a mesh screen protects the face, it isn’t enough to protect eyes from injury. Neither are eyeglasses or sunglasses. Flying objects can shatter the lenses of regular eyewear, adding plastic or glass to the list of potential projectiles.

Select eye protection that resists fogging and has UV protection. Look for the ANSI rating of Z87.1. It will be stamped on all approved eyewear. There are safety glasses and goggles that fit over prescription eyewear. Alternatively, consider customized prescription safety eyewear. Eyewear can be made to your vision prescription, even if you wear bifocals.

Hearing Protection

Chainsaw operators need hearing protection. Noise is measured in units called decibels (dB). A conversation is about 60 dB, a vacuum cleaner is about 70 dB, a lawn mower is about 90 dB, and a chainsaw is about 110 dB. Hearing protection is required when 85 dB is exceeded. To be effective, hearing protection must be worn consistently. Pick a style that works for you and use it.

All hearing protection has a noise reduction rating (NRR). The NRR is the decibel reduction provided by hearing protection. A saw operator needs an NRR of 25 dB to reduce the noise below 85 dB.

Don’t overprotect. Select hearing protectors that provide adequate but not excessive protection. It is important to hear other people, trees cracking, other warning signals, and important machine sounds while operating a chainsaw.

Leg Protection

The Centers for Disease Control reports, “Each year, approximately 36,000 people are treated in hospital emergency departments for injuries from using chain saws.” For this reason, OSHA requires that chainsaw operators use chainsaw chaps or pants.

Chainsaw chaps and pants are made with layers of tightly packed plastic fibers. When the chaps or pants are cut with a chainsaw, these strong fibers do not break. Instead, they get pulled into the chain and jam the turning wheel sprockets. This stops the chainsaw within one rotation.

When using chaps, fasten all the buckles and keep them snug. They should cover the full length of the thigh to two inches below the top of the boot. Chainsaw pants have one advantage over chaps—they tend to stay on your body rather than in the back of the truck. You will have them on when you need them.

Review thoroughly and understand the manufacturer’s care and use instructions. Chaps and pants must be washed. They aren’t effective dirty (the layers stick together and don’t pull out as they should). Read the care guidelines and follow them.

Replace chaps or pants if they are cut. Even a very small cut will shift the plastic fiber layers, leaving them ineffective.


Boots with a composite or steel toe and a nonslip sole are a safe choice. Tree climbers may prefer lighter footwear. Be sure to break new boots in before working in them.

Hand Protection

Gloves are not required, but it is a good idea to use gloves whenever handling a chainsaw. Gloves can dampen the vibration from the saw and protect from minor cuts.

High-visibility Safety Vest

If your work site is exposed to moving traffic, you must wear a high visibility safety vest. Wearing it when working in the woods during hunting season is also a good idea.

Properly worn PPE saves lives every day. When handling a chainsaw, unexpected hazards are the norm. Your PPE will protect you from sudden dangers you can’t escape.

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