Chain Saws


A chain saw is probably one of the most dangerous pieces of equipment you can use. The injuries from these machines are horrible. Many people rent or borrow one, then attempt to cut down the biggest trees on their acreage. Many experienced tree fallers are injured or killed each year. This should be a warning! If you donít have the experience, have someone teach you to use this tool properly, or have them do the work for you.


       Use the proper personal protective equipment.


-††††† Hard hats protect you from falling limbs or branches.


-††††† Safety goggles prevent eye injuries when branches or wood chips fly in your direction.


-††††† Chain saw pants are made from ballistic nylon. They protect legs.


-        Non-slip gloves help prevent abrasions to hands. Steel-toed boots with ankle support help prevent foot injuries.


-        Chain saws are loud. Wear appropriate hearing protection.


       Make sure the saw is in good condition, the nuts and bolts are tightened, the chain is tight, and the chainís oil reservoir is full.


       Make sure your work area is clear. A simple fall when carrying a chain saw could be disastrous.


       When starting a saw, use caution. Make sure you stabilize it with one foot on the foot plate and face the chain away from you when you pull the cord.


       The saw should idle without the chain moving.


       Donít use the saw above shoulder height, and never cut with the toe of the guidebar.


       Check the wood youíre going to cut for nails or spikes. Hitting one with the saw can be extremely dangerous.


       When the guidebar jerks in an upward motion, this is called kickback. If youíre not prepared for this, the chain can jerk upward enough to strike you. This can happen when the blade becomes pinched. Always be prepared for kickback.


Recent improvements in the design of chain saws have led to the production of low kickback replacement chains which are capable of reducing chain saw kickback. Generally speaking, there is a low kickback replacement chain for virtually every chain saw, old and new. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends that you ask your dealer or retailer to determine whether your saw is equipped with one of these new chains. If it isnít, replace your chain with one.



A man was cutting up some wood with a chain saw when he hit a nail that jerked the blade upwards. It struck him in the face and caused very serious facial fractures and soft tissue injuries. This was the first time this man had used a chain saw.




Copyright 1997 Safety Health Publishing Inc.


Martin Lesperance is a fire fighter/paramedic and is the author of the best selling book ďI Wonít be in to Work Today Ė Preventing Injuries at Home, Work and PlayĒ. Martin delivers keynote presentations dealing with injury prevention. His talks are funny, but still have a strong underlying message. Visit his website at