Operating Chainsaws Properly During Post-Storm Cleanup
In the aftermath of severe weather, many communities are in need of clean up. At these times, homeowners and professionals alike reach for labor saving tools – and often that includes a chainsaw.
“Cleaning up after a storm is one situation when a chainsaw is often in the hands of an inexperienced operator due to necessity,” said Ian Hay, Product Manager for Husqvarna. “Especially in those extreme conditions, it’s crucial for anyone operating a saw to carefully review the owner’s manual and follow all recommended guidelines.”
Post-storm cleanup presents some of the most dangerous working conditions for a saw operator. Ian recommends that should you have any concerns about how to handle a particular situation, rely on a professional arborist or tree care expert instead of putting yourself or others at risk.
If you decide to operate a chain saw, Ian offers six important precautions to follow regardless of the conditions:
- Select the right saw: Use a mid-sized saw for cutting wood on the ground, such as one with a bar of 16 to 20 inches, for good manoeuvrability without being too heavy. For smaller limbs, a lightweight, high-speed saw is recommended. Look for design features like good balance, low vibration and high power-to-weight ratio.
- Wear protective apparel. By far the most overlooked aspect of chainsaw operation is appropriate apparel. A properly outfitted operator wears protective chaps or pants, eye and ear protection, protective footwear and work gloves, and a helmet.
- Inspect the saw before use. Ensure both the inertia and manual activation of the chain brake are in proper working condition. Inspect the chain catch for damage and have it repaired as necessary. Also, test the throttle lock-out feature for proper operation. Inspect the bar and chain and repair or replace as necessary. Check for correct chain tension.
- Start safe. A chainsaw is safest to start on the ground with the chain brake engaged. Be sure nothing is obstructing the guide bar/chain. To make sure the saw sits securely on the ground, place your right foot in the rear handle.
- Carefully plan your cutting job. Potential factors include tree lean, electric lines, wind, adjacent roads and bystanders, and dead limbs. Note that “struck-by” injuries from falling limbs are one of the most common accidents for a saw operator. Work at a safe distance, but never work alone.
- Protect yourself against “kick-back.” Never cut with the upper half of the tip of the bar. Kickback occurs when the tip of the bar comes in contact with an object or gets pinched during operation, causing the bar to “kick” up and back towards the operator and result in a loss of control and possible injury.
Last but not least, Ian encourages people never to operate a chain saw when fatigued or under the influence of alcohol or medication.
For more information about proper chainsaw operation, contact us and ask one of our expert staff.