Chainsaws are potentially one of the most dangerous tools that can be used in the garden and they can cause catastrophic injuries, especially if you’re not familiar with using one. Whilst it’s not compulsory to be formally trained in how to use a chainsaw for use in your own garden, it is highly recommended as many competent gardeners have been known to sever limbs and suffer other unimaginable injuries as a result of not being properly trained in how to use one properly by an expert.
It is one of the few pieces of equipment that, no matter how carefully you follow the manufacturer’s guidelines; it cannot make up for proper training.
Proper regular maintenance is crucial to ensuring the safe use of a chainsaw. Unlike some other tools, you need to carry out your maintenance checks every time you use a chainsaw. Things you should check include the silencer, side plate, front and rear hand guards, the chain catcher, chain links, drive sprocket, guide bar and anti-vibration mounts and these should all be checked for excessive wear and damage each time you use the chainsaw.
You should also ensure the tension of the chain is correct and sharpened to the correct specifications as recommended by the manufacturer. Check that the power switch works correctly and that all screws and nuts are secure, the chain brake mechanism is working correctly and that the safety catch is working properly so that you cannot throttle up the chainsaw until the safety catch has been released.
Without carrying out all of these checks, the chainsaw might be difficult to control at best and, at worse, it could cause serious injury.
Secure the fuel cap once you’ve filled the chainsaw and wipe away any petrol residue before starting it up.
Wear Protective Clothing
A safety helmet, eyes and ears protection, appropriate steel toe cap boots and both upper body and lower limb appropriate clothing made from protective material should be worn at all times, no matter how small the job. Your garden centre will be able to advise you on the types of protective gear that’s favoured by those who use chainsaws regularly.
Consider the Job Carefully
Before powering up the chainsaw, consider the job carefully to identify any areas of difficulty. For example, if the job you’re doing might possibly bring down another large tree, make sure you have the knowledge and any extra special equipment to do the job safely. Watch out for any overhead power cables or telephone lines and make sure there are no gas pipes, power cables etc. running beneath the ground onto which a heavy branch or tree you’re cutting down may fall onto and damage.
Using the Chainsaw Safely
Never operate a chainsaw if you’re feeling tired or if you’ve been drinking alcohol. Some of the worst chainsaw accidents have occurred due to fatigue. You need to be alert at all times and have quick reactions. Kickback injuries are responsible for the majority of injuries to the face and parts of the upper body where it’s difficult to protect yourself fully. Kickback occurs when there is a sudden upward deviation of the guide bar which is hard to control when the guide bar comes into contact with an object so ensure that the nose of the guide bar is kept well away from any possible obstruction, make sure you’re not over-reaching when using the chainsaw, keep the saw below the level of your chest and always cut on full power.
Also, ensure that people are kept a safe distance away from where you’re working and that the chainsaw is kept well away from children and stored safely after use.
There are different ways in which to use a chainsaw depending on what you are cutting down. For example, you’d adopt quite different techniques when felling a tree to simply cutting a few sturdy branches but you should get trained in how to use these different methods of cutting before tackling a job.
It cannot be emphasised too greatly just how potentially dangerous chainsaws can be if you’re not properly trained and have experience in using one. If you’re in any doubt at all, there are plenty of tree fellers and other gardening services providers which you can find in your local Yellow Pages, who can tackle the job for you.