Preventing Injuries From Chain Saws

Tips for preventing injuries when using a chainsaw


In 2018, Wisconsin has had significant flooding and damage due to severe weather. Clean-up from these storms has resulted in an increase in chain saw use. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there are approximately 36,000 people treated in emergency departments each year from chain saw injuries.

Before Starting the Chain Saw


  • The chain saw operator should have training/certification of training and experience in safe chain saw use and techniques for tree/limb removal.

  • Wear personal protective clothing and equipment including a hard hat, safety goggles/glasses, hearing protection, heavy duty work gloves, chain saw chaps (chain saw cut resistant legwear that extends from the waist to the top of the foot), and metal toe boots which cover the foot and ankle.

  • Choose the size and type of chain saw based on the type of job.

  • Identify the location and action of chain saw safety features such as the chain brake, front and rear had guards, stop switch, chain catcher and spark arrester.

  • Check the controls, chain saw tension (this preventative measure keeps the chain from coming off), all bolts and handles. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for operating, adjusting and maintaining chain saws.

  • Keep chain saw teeth sharp and the blade with bar properly lubricated.

  • Place fuel in the chain saw at least 10 feet away from sources of ignition.

  • Keep bystanders and coworkers a safe distance away from the person felling a tree 150 feet (two tree lengths); 30 feet away from any person handling a chain saw to cut limbs.

  • Clear the area of limbs, wood, and debris to prevent falling and to provide an escape path if trees or limbs start to move or fall.

  • Check the area for scene safety and possible hazards such as live power lines, cables, debris, nails.

  • Check the wood being cut for nails, shrapnel, and other hazards.

While Running the Chain Saw

  • Keep hands on handles and maintain secure footing.

  • Cut limbs, trees, and wood at waist level or below for best control of the chain saw.

  • Do not cut directly overhead.

  • Beware of bent trees and limbs, which if suddenly released can strike the chain saw operator or bystanders. After identifying the point of maximal tension, slowly shave through the underside of the limb to slowly release the tension.

  • Shut off motor or engage the chain brake when carrying the chain saw.

  • Be prepared for kickbacks.

A chain saw is a great tool. Take the time before starting the saw and while running it to ensure safety and injury prevention.


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