Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Chain saw safety starts with you

The most important rule for chain saw safety is this: If you've never used one, the morning after the hurricane is not the time to teach yourself. Serious injury or death can result. The offseason is a good time to learn.
Carl Smith, a fifth-generation logger who trains chain saw operators for timber companies, says, "A chain saw is the most dangerous hand tool that can be purchased on the open market. It requires no license and no training to own or operate.''
Grabbing a chain saw, he says, "is like grabbing a hand grenade without a pin in it. It is very likely to go off in your face.''
About 40,000 chain saw accidents and deaths happen every year, says the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
If you don't know what you're doing, leave this work to the professionals. If you are experienced with a chain saw, remember these safety tips:

• Review the owner's manual before you start work.

• Wear a hard hat and ear and eye protection. Wear close-fitting long pants (preferably with protective chaps), gloves and steel-toed work boots. No bare feet, sandals or slippery shoes.

• Never work alone. Always have a helper. Keep children and pets away. Don't work when you're tired.

• Beware of broken or hanging branches, attached vines or a
dead tree that is leaning. All can
be hazardous to the saw operator.

• Use a chain saw at ground level only, not on a ladder or in a tree. Do not hold the saw higher than your waist.

• A dull saw is a dangerous saw.
It should be sharpened and should have a clean air filter, a good
spark plug and an effective muffler.

• Stand on the uphill side when cutting, because a tree may roll.
A downed tree can weigh several

• When removing limbs from a fallen tree, wedge or block the trunk in place so the tree won't roll or move as you work.

• Never stand on a log and saw between your feet. Stand to one side of the limb you are cutting; never straddle it.

• Trim limbs from a fallen trunk while standing on the opposite side of the trunk.

• A common cause of chain saw injury is kickback, which occurs when the upper tip of the guide bar touches an object or when the wood closes in and pinches the saw chain in the cut.

Kickback may cause lightning-fast reverse action of the guide bar back toward the operator.

Results of kickback include severe upper body, neck and facial cuts or death. Safety chains and other safety features on chain saws can minimize, but not eliminate, this hazard.

Sources: American Red Cross, Illinois Cooperative Extension Service, North Dakota State University Extension Service, Forestry at, Hillsborough County Extension Service

>>fast facts

Norm's advice
on getting started

Master carpenter Norm Abram of This Old House (the TV show and the magazine) offers these tips on starting your chain saw:

• Place the saw on the ground. Be sure nothing is touching the bar.

• Engage the chain brake. If the engine is cold, pull out the choke completely.

• Put your right foot partway through the rear handle and hold the front handle firmly with your left hand.

• Pull the starter-cord handle with your right hand until the engine starts.

• Push in the choke and hit the throttle once so the engine speed drops to idle. Disengage the chain brake only when you're ready to begin sawing.

Source: This Old House magazine

Chain saw safety starts with you 05/15/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 16, 2012 11:42am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Who is in charge during a hurricane? Hillsborough County and Tampa still can't agree


    TAMPA — Who has the authority to order an evacuation during a hurricane?

    Mayor Bob Buckhorn says he has evacuation authority.
  2. Gators rally past Kentucky, streak hits 31


    LEXINGTON, Ky. — For the second week in a row, Florida found itself storming the field in a game that came down to the last second. A 57-yard field-goal attempt by Kentucky kicker Austin MacGinnis came just a few feet short of making history and snapping a 30-year losing streak, as the No. 20 Gators escaped a …

    Florida wide receiver Brandon Powell (4) scores a touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Kentucky, Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, in Lexington, Ky.
  3. Pen makes it way too interesting as Rays hang on for 9-6 win


    A couple of home runs provided the news pegs of the night for the Rays, but it was more topical to talk about what nearly happened as they hung on for a 9-6 win over the Orioles.

    Lucas Duda's three-run homer in the third inning was the Rays' record-breaking 217th of the season, as well as his …

  4. An attempt to project what Rays will look like in 2018

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — We know what the Rays look like this year: a team that had enough talent but too many flaws, in construction and performance, and in the next few days will be officially eliminated from a wild-card race it had a chance to win but let slip away.

    Adeiny Hechavarria, high-fiving Lucas Duda, seems likely to be brought back.
  5. Trump fallout: Bucs' DeSean Jackson to make 'statement' Sunday


    Bucs receiver DeSean Jackson said Saturday that he will make a "statement" before today's game against the Vikings in response to President Donald Trump's comment that owners should "fire" players who kneel in protest during the national anthem.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver DeSean Jackson (11) makes a catch during the first half of an NFL game between the Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017.