chainsaw safety tips News & Opinion

Chainsaw Safety Tips for Green Pros


Everyone starts out at some point. If you’re beginning your career in the green industry or working on a logging crew of other business that uses a chainsaw, safety matters. We put together a set of chainsaw safety tips that should cover the basics for new guys just starting their careers. It won’t hit every single possible scenario, but we hope it jump starts you on your way to operating a chainsaw in a safe manner. After all, a chainsaw is one of those tools that need to be respected and used properly. Do that, and you’ll have years of satisfying and productive work ahead of you.

Check out our Chainsaw Basics article for even more tips.

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Preparation is Key

As with everything in life, preparation is important. While it’s always good to work with a partner, we recognize that’s not always possible. With that in mind, part of chainsaw safety involves making sure someone at least knows where you are working. In the event of an emergency, you don’t want any delays. These days, everyone seems fairly well connected, so we’re far better off than when the nearest phone might be miles away.

Know Your Equipment

Your chainsaw has several key features that keep you safe. Know them and you already have a leg up on key chainsaw safety tips. There’s a kickback guard and chain brake that stops the chain in the event of a kickback (where the saw bucks up suddenly towards your face). These devices won’t work properly if you use the saw left-handed…so don’t. The chain catcher is a piece of metal at the base of the chain bar. It is designed to catch the chain in the event it breaks or derails from the chain bar. Additionally, the flat part of the handle extending underneath your right hand is there to further prevent injury in the event of a chain break.

Makita XCU03 chainsaw

Have the Proper Equipment

Never use a chainsaw in flip-flops and shorts (you know who you are!) Proper equipment is essential to working safely with a chainsaw. Proper equipment includes a helmet, ear protection, and safety glasses. It also includes protecting your legs with specially-made chaps. These chainsaw chaps are actually quite amazing. They protect by releasing thousands of tiny “threads” when cut. This immediately gums up the chain when it comes into contact with the chaps and stops it from spinning. It is the analogue equivalent to a SawStop table saw for chainsaws.

STIHL Chainsaw Protective Chaps

Finally, make sure you have good gloves and slip-resistant boots. You can suffer a major injury if your hands or feet slip while using a chainsaw. Some of the easiest chainsaw safety tips simply involve wearing the proper gear.

Chainsaw Safety Tips When Felling Trees

We cannot possibly include a full lesson on the chainsaw safety involved in felling trees, but keep a few things in mind. Plan your felling. Make sure that tree falls in the proper direction and never underestimate the potential for variations in the angle or height of the tree. You also want to check the tree for damage. There’s nothing more frightening than cutting into a tree only to experience barber chair where it splits unpredictably up the middle and kicks out (possibly towards you).

STIHL MSA 200C Chainsaw_6

You also want to plan the entire job—including removal. Will there be any issues with removing the tree in the place you have it fall (ruts, streams, etc)? Are you “bucking” the natural order of things? A tree leaning heavily in one direction will not easily go the other. That takes experience and lots of planning. Take into account the weight and predisposition of the tree.

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Post-Prep and Maintenance

You can’t just run a chainsaw forever without maintaining it. A dull and/or poorly-tensioned blade presents a danger to the operator. You must check your saw before and after every job to make sure the tool is in perfect operating order. Does it have enough chain oil? Is there a regularly scheduled maintenance plan for the tool?

Tool-less - Bar Oil Tank

There is a lot more to consider, but for now, hopefully, these chainsaw safety tips give you a leg up when starting out your career. Of course, even homeowners can benefit from using a chainsaw safely—and we welcome those readers as well.

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