Chainsaws are extremely dangerous and proper operator training is required and you should follow three points – safe saw, safe operator and safe site (SOS).
The risks when using chainsaws will vary greatly depending on whether you are working with a chainsaw from a ladder, suspended by ropes, in an elevated work platform or bucket truck, in a tree or on the ground.
There are many different makes, models and sizes of chainsaws. To safely use a chainsaw use you must ensure that the saw is properly maintained and that as an operator you know how to keep the chainsaw in a safe working condition.
The chainsaw must always be maintained according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Before using a chainsaw, the operator must check the following:
- the on/off switch is clearly indicated and is working properly
- the side plate, front and rear hand guards are secure, the chain, guide bar and sprockets and chain catcher are undamaged
- the chain is properly sharpened, tensioned and lubricated
- the chain brake is properly adjusted and in good working condition
- the silencer and anti-vibration mounts are in good working condition
Operators must be competent in chainsaw use and have proper training and certification. Employers of workers using chainsaws must ensure that their employees are able to perform tasks safely per OSHA guidelines.
As an operator you must also consider your fitness level. Certain medical conditions, your age, dexterity and flexibility may affect your ability to safely operate a chainsaw.
Never operate a chainsaw without wearing the proper PPE (personal protective equipment). Operators must also ensure all equipment is properly maintained and that they are properly trained to us it.
All operators must wear approved helmet, hearing protection, eye protection, gloves, leg protection and boots.
Note – Even by wearing all of your protective PPE, you cannot guarantee 100% protection against cutting by a chainsaw, but you can greatly reduce the risk of major injury by wearing it.
If possible, avoid working alone with a chainsaw. If you must work alone, pre-arrange how you will alert someone if you are injured. An example can be providing pre-arranged call-in times with others to keep them aware that you are safe.
The main points to review when assessing a work site before using a chainsaw.
- Look around to confirm that any overhead power-lines are further than two tree lengths from any tree to be felled or at least 40 feet from any other tree work going on.
- Recognize the position of nearby roads, footpaths or public access areas and if necessary, provide warning signs, barriers or close roads as required.
- Plan the direction the tree will fall ensuring there is no danger to yourself or others and you have selected a clear escape route.
- Ensure nobody is within two tree lengths of the tree being felled.
- Ensure you have secure footing and clear, uncluttered working area around you.
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