Far too often, people underestimate the risks they face when working outdoors, says Gent Simmons, product manager of handheld tools for Husqvarna.
“It’s important for cabin owners to have proper equipment on hand and to be familiar with safe operating procedures whenever you’re preparing to use a chain saw. Whether it’s cleaning up after a storm, pruning trees, or cutting firewood, a chain saw demands respect and the first step in respecting your saw is understanding it,” Simmons says.
He offers six important tips when operating any level of chain saw (but with this caveat: “There are professionals only a phone call away if the job requires an expert”).
- Carefully review the owner’s manual and follow all of the manufacturer’s recommended guidelines.
- Wear protective apparel. The most overlooked aspect of chain saw operation is adequate protective gear. For optimal safety, a properly outfitted operator wears protective chaps/pants, eye protection, protective footwear, work gloves, a helmet with a visor, and hearing protection (it is convenient to have the earmuffs attached to your helmet).
- Inspect the saw before you use it. Ensure both the inertia and manual activation of the chain brake are in proper working condition. Inspect the chain catch for damage and have it repaired as necessary. Also, test the throttle lock-out feature for proper operation. Check the bar and chain and sharpen, tighten or replace as necessary. Finally, a quick inspection before each use for a clean air filter and unspoiled fuel can keep your saw running strong for many years.
- Start safe. A chain saw is safest to start on the ground with the chain brake engaged. Be sure nothing is obstructing the guide bar/chain. Proper positioning when starting is to put your right foot in the rear handle assembly, your left hand around the front handle, and use your right hand to pull the starter cord. This ensures the saw is properly stabilized upon start up.
- Carefully plan your cutting job. Potential factors include tree lean, electric lines, wind, adjacent roads and bystanders, and dead tree limbs. Note that “struck-by” injuries from falling limbs are one of the most common accidents for a saw operator. Understand that wood can be under significant binds and pressure and that proper positioning is critical when making cuts. Use other tools like wedges, axes and lifting tongs to make the job easier.
- Protect yourself against kickback and understand what causes it. Kickback occurs when the upper corner tip of the bar comes in contact with an object or gets pinched during operation causing the bar to kick up and back towards the operator.