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Chainsaw Safety Toolbox Talk

Use this toolbox talk to educate your crews on how to safely use a chainsaw, from best practices to chainsaw safety features, what PPE to wear, and what not to do.

Chainsaw Safety Talk

Using a chainsaw should be done with extreme caution at all times. According to OSHA, there are more than 30,000 chainsaw-related injuries reported in the United States every year. Most people who work with chainsaws for a living know how to use safely use them—the majority of chainsaw accidents occur due to untrained individuals using them at home. But that doesn’t make trained professionals incapable of being injured by chainsaws as well!

It is very important to obtain the correct safety training and qualifications if you work a job that requires you to operate a chainsaw regularly. There is specific PPE that needs to be worn, best practices that need to be followed, and chainsaw safety features that need to be used to prevent unnecessary injuries from occurring. In this chainsaw safety talk, we'll cover all those items.

Chainsaw Injury & Fatality Statistics

Anytime you are using a power tool like a chainsaw, there is a risk of harm. In reviewing chainsaw injury and fatality statistics over the past few years from OSHA and other sources, some commonalities can be about what causes chainsaw accidents:

  1. The most common area of the body to endure a injury from a chainsaw is the legs or the knees. In fact, studies show 40% of chainsaw injuries happen to these two areas of the body.

  2. The second most common area of the body to endure a chainsaw injury is the hands or wrists. 35% of chainsaw injuries involve the hand or wrist.

  3. Most injuries that are endured by a chainsaw happen when the blade gets hung up, called a kickback. The blade will “kickback” in the direction of the operator.

Chainsaw Safety Best Practices

When operating a chainsaw on the construction site, keep these best practices in mind:

1. Be Properly Trained

When you are using a chainsaw, it is important to make sure that you are knowledgeable and informed about it. You never want to figure it out as you go, that just leaves room for errors to occur. The proper training and knowledge are needed to ensure you are being as safe as you can be.

2. Read the Manual

Always read the instructions and manuals that are provided to you with the chainsaw. This will teach you exactly what all the features are of it and how to use them. This way you will know how to safely use the tool and what not to do with it.

3. Never Use a Chainsaw On a Ladder or Unstable Surface

When you are on a ladder, suspended above, or on unstable surfaces, you should never operate a chainsaw for any reason. It is taking a risk of your life and the other people who are around below you. You take the chance of losing your balance and falling or accidentally cutting yourself. Likewise, it is also recommended that you never reach above you to cut something, always try and keep the level of the chainsaw below shoulder height.

4. Make Full Contact

When you are operating a chainsaw, you should always make full contact with the blade to the area that you are cutting. Don’t start a connection with the tip of it, that is when the blade will try and kick back on people.

5. Be Alert

When you are using a chainsaw, you should always stay alert and try to be as cautious as possible. Always be ready for anything that can happen, like a kickback. Not paying attention can result in serious injuries.

Construction worker safely using a chainsaw on a job site.

PPE to Wear When Operating a Chainsaw

Wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) while operating a chainsaw can help prevent unnecessary injuries. Remember that PPE is a last resort, so safety training and best practices should still be followed. PPE items that should be worn while chainsawing include:

  1. Hard Hat

  2. Gloves

  3. Earplugs

  4. Protective chaps

  5. Face Shield

  6. Protective Toe Boots

What Not To Wear When Operating A Chainsaw

Just as there are specific PPE items that you should wear when operating a chainsaw, there are also certain items that you should not wear for your safety. This includes loose clothing, jewelry, or loose hair. These are all hazards because they can get caught in the teeth of the chainsaw.

Chainsaw Safety Features

One of the key reasons that reading the manual that comes along with your chainsaw is so important is so you understand all the safety features of your specific model. Chainsaw safety features vary from brand to brand and model to model. It's important you know what each of your safety features do and why they're there. NEVER override or turn off a safety feature–they are there for your benefit.

Chainsaw safety features may include:

  1. Felling Sight

  2. Anti-Vibration Mounts

  3. Chain Brakes

  4. Safety Trigger Locks

  5. Low Kick-Back Chains

  6. Spark Arrestor

  7. Sprocket-Nose Bar

  8. Chain Catch Pin

  9. Hand Guards

Chainsaw Safety is Number One

Whenever you are operating any type of power tool or mechanical device, you should take the utmost precaution that you can. A chainsaw is no exception. These types of tools always need to be treated respectfully and responsibly. Safety regulations and protocols are put into place to try and keep everyone at the workplace as safe as possible. Injuries can happen even when the right precautions are being followed, so that's why it is so important to make chainsaw safety a priority.

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