While efficient, chainsaws are inherently dangerous tools that cause thousands of chainsaw injuries every year. According to the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission there were over 28,500 chain saw injuries in 1999. More than 36 percent of chainsaw injuries occur to the legs and knees and the average chainsaw injury needs 110 stitches. The annual expense to treat chainsaw injuries in 1989 was 350 million dollars which could mean costs are triple that today.
Workplace Chainsaw Injuries
Assuming a chainsaw injury requires four weeks recovery, worker’s compensation costs were estimated at 125 million dollars annually in 1989. Although not as easily quantified, loss of production and loss of quality of life for the injured party likely account for the single largest cost.
There are 69,000 professional loggers in the U.S. which means that it would cost five million dollars to clothe each of them with one pair of chainsaw chaps (at approximately $75.00 each). When you account for the dangers in the logging industry, however, you can see that investing in safety gear provides a good payback.
Chainsaw Safety Tips
Chainsaw injuries can be minimized by using proper personal protective equipment and safe operating procedures.
Before Starting a Chain Saw
- Check that the saw is in good working order. The controls, chain tension, and all bolts and handles need to be in good repair and adjusted according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Ensure that the chain is sharp and the lubrication reservoir is full.
- Clear away dirt, debris, small tree limbs and rocks from the area you will be sawing. Look for nails and spikes in the tree before cutting.
- Always wear proper personal protective equipment when operating the saw, including hand, foot, leg, eye, face, hearing, and head protection.
- Avoid loose-fitting clothing.
- Before starting the chainsaw, ensure that the trunk or tree limbs will not bind against the saw.
- Watch for branches being held down under tension as they may spring out when cut.
- Only use gasoline-powered chain saws equipped with a protective device that minimizes chain saw kickback.
To Fuel a Chain Saw
- Only use approved fuel containers to bring fuel to the chainsaw.
- Dispense fuel at least 10 feet away from any sources of ignition when performing construction activities.Do not smoke during fueling.Use a funnel or a flexible hose to pour fuel into the saw.
- Never attempt to fuel a chainsaw when it is running or hot from use.
Operating a Chain Saw
- Start the saw on the ground or on another firm support. Drop starting the saw is very dangerous.
- Start the saw at least 10 feet from the fueling area, with the chain’s brake engaged.
- Keep your hands firmly on the saw’s handles, and maintain secure footing while operating the saw.
- Be aware of the potential for saw kick-back. Prevent kick-back by keeping the tip guard in place (if supplied) and never sawing with the tip.
- Shut off the saw or engage the chain brake when carrying the saw on rough or uneven terrain.
Chainsaw Safety Features
Over the years, chainsaw manufacturers have added safety features with the aim of decreasing chainsaw injuries. Some safety features are on every chainsaw and others are only present in areas where they are required by law. Most chainsaw safety features are focused on avoiding kickback through a chain and bar design or reducing the risk of injury should kickback happen through the use of chain brakes.
Chainsaw operators should always wear proper safety gear and inspect a chainsaw in advance to ensure that it is in good working order and has the appropriate safety features.
If you or a loved one were injured in an accident, you have enough to deal with. Let an experienced accident attorney fight for the full compensation that you deserve. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times bigger with the help of a lawyer. Call the caring accident attorneys at Tario & Associates, P.S. in Bellingham, WA today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing residents of Whatcom County, Skagit County, Island County and Snohomish County since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!