Unless you use a chainsaw daily you will not develop and maintain the right muscles to use it safely. If you have not used a chainsaw before you should start with a smaller, lighter weight saw to learn how to use it safely. Some training is also recommended and mandatory if you are going to use it professionally.
Chainsaw injuries are a significant percentage of hospital injuries. Most arborists can recite numerous incidences, even within our profession.
Even before you start a chainsaw you need to know whether it is sharpened properly so that it cuts straight and smoothly, is the cutting chain at the right tension, does the cutting chain move when the engine is at an idle, does the chain brake work, and are there any loose screws.
Once you know the saw is operational can you start it safely? Now that you have the saw started, how much throttle should you use, how much pressure should you use, what kind of cut should you use, what are the consequences of your cut, what is happening around you, is someone approaching within ten feet of you, does someone want your attention????
Oop’s are you wearing your PPE (personal protection equipment)? It is compulsory for professional chainsaw users to wear their PPE: safety boots (steel toe), chainsaw pants, high visibility clothing, gloves, hearing protection, eye protection and helmet. Does your PPE work and does it give you a false sense of protection?
Lets consider what parts of your body requires the most protection from the chainsaw. It would be your vital organs (abdomen, chest) your neck and face (head).
The best way of protecting your vital organs is to maximise the control you have over the chainsaw. Gloves reduce this control unless you need them to keep your hands warm. In my opinion (over 50 years of experience) the number one thing you need to do to maintain control over the chainsaw is to have a good stance; your footing needs to be firm and you need good balance. You also need quick reflexes, good stamina, and good maneuverability. Safety boots and chainsaw pants reduce these needs.
Hearing protection is essential. Eye protection is also very important but can reduce your vision. I have found safety glasses better than goggles, which can reduce vision and cause accumulation of sawdust around their top edges. There is no guarantee that a helmet will save your life but is compulsory to wear. I believe PPE gives you a false sense of security.
When using a chainsaw you need to practice looking before you move. Move your head in the direction you want to go, before you moving your arms or feet. Chainsaw work is usually done on rough, uneven ground with obstacles. You will not hear anyone approaching you.
Nobody should be within ten feet of someone operating a chainsaw.
It is really worth owning a $400.00 to $800.00 chainsaw plus the needed tools and files, spare chains ($30.00 to $90.00 each), and PPE, plus gas and oil, and then only use it occasionally.
Oop’s I didn’t talk about chainsaw kick back or when to use the chain brake. I recommend taking a training course or hiring UTS Tree Care. We can extend the life of your trees and may extend your life expectancy. We at UTS Tree Care are also highly trained at working at heights, working near hydro and felling trees.
Should you be attempting these too? Probably not. My next discussion.