Do’s and don’ts of safe chain saw operation

Chainsaws are powerful and productive tools – but they’re also potentially dangerous if not used correctly and carefully. Proper training, operation, maintenance and safety gear greatly reduce risk for injury or death.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 36,000 people are injured by chainsaws annually.
Proper personal protective equipment should include hand, foot, leg, eye, face, hearing and head protection – and don’t wear loose-fitting clothing, drink or get high before or during chainsaw operation.
Some of the tips below might seem obvious – but the statistics show how often they are ignored. Remember: Chainsaw accidents happen FAST! Life can be forever altered in just seconds.A
The following safety tips are endorsed by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration:
*Before firing up the saw, check controls, chain tension and all bolts and handles to ensure that they are functioning properly and that they’re adjusted according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
*Make sure that the chain is sharp and that the oil tank is full.
*Start the saw on the ground or on another firm support. Drop starting is never a good idea.
*Start the saw at least 10 feet from your fueling area, with the chain’s brake engaged – and don’t smoke during fueling. Don’t add gas to a running or hot saw.
Chainsaw and operation tips:
*Clear away dirt, debris, small tree limbs and rocks from the saw’s chain path. Look for nails, spikes or other metal in the tree before cutting. Scope out a potential escape path in case the tree falls wrong.
*When cutting brush, take care to look for old fencing on the ground or tangled up in the brush.
*Shut off the saw or engage its chain brake when carrying the saw across rough or uneven terrain.
*Keep your hands on the saw’s handles and maintain balance while operating the saw.
*Plan where the tree will fall and make sure the ‘fall area’ is free of hazards; and avoid dropping a tree onto another tree or other object.
*Plan the cut ahead of time.
*Watch for objects under tension; for example, branches under tension may spring out when cut.
Always be prepared for kickback; avoid cutting in the kickback zone and use saws that reduce kickback danger (chain brakes, low kickback chains, guide bars, etc.)
*Never cut anything directly overhead.
*Shut off or release the throttle prior to retreating.
*Shut off or engage the chain brake whenever the saw is carried across hazardous terrain.
*Take breaks as needed as fatigue increases the risk for accident and injury.
*To help avoid kickback, don’t saw with the tip, and keep the tip guard in place.
*Identify and clear any obstacles that may interfere with stable footing, cutting, or impede your retreat or movement paths.
*Make sure no other people are standing nearby.
*Identify electrical lines in and near the work area and look for potential “hangers” and “widow-makers”— branches that may dislodge and fall into the work area from above.
*Always use proper personal protective equipment (PPE).
Never work alone!
Operate Within Your Skill Level
Some of the accidents happen when people try to accomplish work that’s beyond their capabilities or skill levels.
This includes trees on unstable ground or steep slopes; trees with a heavy lean; trees with stem or root rot; or trees known to split.
Operating a chainsaw above shoulder height or above ground level, such as from a ladder or tree is risky business as well.