Top 10 chain saw safety tips

The fall season is a prime time for clearing out dead or diseased trees and damaged branches. In addition to personal home use, chain saws are a necessary tool for industries like forestry, landscaping, and utility and construction workers.

The potential for injury is high. The Consumer Product Safety Commission found that the number of chain saw accidents requiring medical attention increased from 70,000 to 135,000 annually over a five-year period. Avoid injuries by following these 10 important safety tips.

1.    Keep the chain sharp and make sure all fittings are lubricated and properly tightened.

2.    Refill the gas reservoir a minimum of 10 feet away from any ignition sources. Never smoke while operating a chain saw, and never fuel a saw while it is running.

3.    Start the saw on the ground, never while resting it on your leg.

4.    Clear the area of any obstructions, such as rocks, nails, or other metal before cutting.

5.    Wear proper protective equipment, including hand, foot, leg, eye, face, hearing, and head protection. Legs and feet receive the highest number of injuries.

6.    Do not wear loose-fitting clothing.

7.    Be certain of the trajectory of falling trees and limbs, and plan accordingly before cutting. Falling branches and trees result in many injuries.

8.    Do not cut with the tip of the saw, which produces kick-back.
9.    Consumer Reports recommends only cutting tree limbs you can reach from the ground.

10.    Never operate a gas-powered chain saw in confined quarters where carbon monoxide can build up.

Practicing these tips is an important part of maintaining safety, reducing workers’ comp claims, and minimizing injuries. The University of Minnesota Extension provides more in-depth safety tips, including felling techniques and a daily operation checklist. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration also can provide additional safety information.