Chainsaw safety avoids ‘a lot of grief’

Responsible drivers and vehicle passengers always wear seatbelts. Sensible boaties don life jackets and set off to sea with appropriate safety gear – and safety measures should also apply to the use of chainsaws, says Stihl Shop Whakatane owner Paul Henricksen.


Knowing the capability of a chainsaw and matching the saw to the job is important.

“Chainsaws are designed to cut wood, which is solid. If they come in contract with flesh, injuries are often very nasty – so it pays to take safety seriously, including wearing the right protective clothing.”

Knowing the capability of a chainsaw and matching the saw to the job is important. “Don’t attempt to do a big job with a small saw, or vice versa.”

Check the saw before using, making sure the chain is tensioned correctly, the teeth and drags are set correctly and all the safety devices are working correctly.

Appropriate safety equipment for operating a chainsaw include gloves or a mitt, chaps or safety trousers, helmet, eye protection – either a visor or safety glasses – and good quality hearing protection in the form of ear muffs. Solid boots, preferably with steel caps, should be worn.

Before beginning work, check the site for hazards, especially something which might trip you up or any overhead hazards, like wires or branches. Never ‘drop start’ a chainsaw. Chainsaws should always be started using the cold or warm start positions and started well clear of the fuelling spot.

Hold the saw firmly with both hands with the thumb encircling the grip. Never cut above shoulder-height and preferably keep the body of the saw close to your body so you’re not overstretched.

Avoid cutting into the ground, as dirt will blunt the chain immediately. Cut one piece of wood at a time, as cutting multiple pieces may cause kick-back.

Avoid using the tip of the bar unless you know what you’re doing, as this is a dangerous area, says Paul. To reduce the risk of accidents take regular breaks.

Paul says most young people don’t think twice about wearing safety gear, but some among the older generation are still reluctant to do so.

“They may have used a chainsaw for years without incident, but it only takes one slip for things to go very wrong.

“The right safety clothing and safety practices along with a well maintained chainsaw can avoid a lot of grief.”


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