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Chain saw sitting on a stump.

AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala. – Approximately 36,000 people are treated for chain saw injuries each year.

Chain saws are important tools to use in land management. Whether implementing habitat management or maintaining clear roads, chain saws are powerful tools that assistant landowners in a variety of ways. However, landowners must use these tools safely.

Safety Tips

While using a chain saw is beneficial for land management, it is also dangerous.

Jack Rowe, an Alabama Extension forestry, wildlife and natural resources regional agent, offers tips on keeping safety in mind while operating this machine.

“Be certain that you know all of the chain saw’s parts and how to fuel, maintain, start, brake and stop it,” Rowe said. “Lack of knowledge and assumption of knowledge are major risks. There are user guidelines for a reason.”

It is important to use a saw that fits the job. While most tasks can be completed with an 18-inch bar, keep in mind the specific job to determine which saw to use.

Another important thing to keep in mind is to ensure that the chain brake and throttle safety are working properly. The chain brake should always be engaged when the person is not actively cutting.

“Never move more than two steps with the chainsaw brake off,” Rowe said. “It is best to remember to always set the chain brake before moving at all.”

Personal protective equipment is also a necessity when doing work with a chain saw. Investing in protective gear could save thousands of dollars in medical bills and potentially save lives.

According to Rowe, leg, foot, head, eye and ear protection are all OHSA mandatory. Hand protection is always advised.

Avoiding Injuries

It is crucial to think through the reaction that will occur once beginning a cut. Properly evaluating the situation before cuts are made can prevent accidents and injuries.

“When operating the saw, think ahead several steps,” he said. “Form a plan of work in your mind.”

Other tips for avoiding injuries include to never use a chainsaw above shoulder height, knowing the proper starting technique and ensuring that all safety features are present and working on the saw.

“Once running, never take your hand off the saw,” Rowe said. “Never operate a chain saw one handed.”

More Information

For more information on chainsaw safety, watch the video below, visit www.aces.edu or contact your county Extension office.

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