Chainsaw Safety for Homeowners

Safety should be a major consideration during the cleanup of storm damaged trees, particularly when it comes to the use of a chainsaw. Homeowner chainsaw users may not be aware of the safety rules that professional loggers should follow for proper operation and maintenance of a chainsaw. While the chainsaw is one of the most efficient and productive portable power tools, it is also the most DANGEROUS! Pruning and removing limbs from storm damaged trees is not the same thing as cutting firewood from a tree already on the ground. Branches and trees that are twisted and bent are usually under strain that is undetectable to the untrained eye. The quick release of that stored energy by cutting with a chain saw can result in unpredictable results.

Best Practices

  • Read and study the operator's manual to ensure that your saw is adjusted and used according to the manufacturer.
  • Follow the instructions, especially the section on preventing kickback.
  • Inspect your saw before using it. A sharp and well maintained saw increases productivity, decreases fatigue, and helps prevent injury and accidents.
  • Know the safety features of a chain saw and always check before each use to be sure they are working properly.
  • Make sure that you fuel your saw in an open area at least 10 feet from an ignition source. Start your saw at least 10 feet from the fuel container.
  • Start your saw on level ground or an area where you are otherwise firmly supported. If the saw has a chain brake make sure it is on when starting the saw.
  • Keep both hands on the saw and your footing secure at all times.
  • Clear the area of things that get in the way of cutting and retreating from falling or moving branches.
  • Avoid cutting overhead.
  • Stay clear of electrical and power lines.
  • Shut your saw off or release the throttle prior to retreating.
  • Shut off the saw or engage the chain brake if the terrain is hazardous or if you are moving more than 50 ft.
  • Wear personal protective equipment (PPE) including a hard hat, eye protection, hearing protection, gloves, leg protection and foot protection. Most injuries occur on the lower left leg (thigh) and the left arm (back of the left hand). Be sure to protect these areas well.

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