How to Use a Chainsaw Safely: Follow These Tips!

chainsaw safety

No matter the type of chainsaw you use, you’ll always be at risk of injury. Several manufacturers of chainsaws have designed safer units, however, functionality can’t cover all your bases. There are several ways to practice better safety. For instance wearing the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) as well as ensuring your chainsaw is sharpened.

When it comes to the risks associated with chainsaw injury, numbers don’t lie. According to an insurance company that specializes in loggers insurance, the Davis-Garvin Insurance Agency, the average chainsaw injury requires 110 stitches. In the year 2000 the average corresponding medical costs of a chainsaw related injury was estimated to be at least $12,000 per case. The most common chainsaw injury affects the leg area, followed closely by injuries involving the arms.

Chainsaws are not a toy and should be taken seriously every time you use them.

Chainsaw Safety Functions

gasoline powered chainsaw

When it comes to serious chainsaw injuries, kickback is one of the most common causes. By definition, a kickback is the sudden upward movement of the guide bar. There are two ways a kickback occurs. The first is when the moving chain strikes an object at the tip of the guide bar. The second is when the wood closes in and pinches the chain in the middle of a cut. Either will initiate a kickback and can cause fatal injury.

Newer models of chainsaws are designed with several safety features that are meant to decrease the risk of injury from kickback. The following functions are some of the safety features that you should be familiar with before operating a chainsaw:

Chain brake

Found on the top handle of the chainsaw. It is used to stop the chainsaw chain from rotating around the guide bar. The brake is engaged in two ways: by the user pushing it forward or when the saw kicks back.

Right-hand guard

Found on the bottom of the upper handle. It is engineered as an added protection for the user’s hand, in the event that a chain should shatter or derail. This is best used for colder engines and larger saws.

Centrifugal Clutch

Part of the clutch’s function is to extricate when the engine is not working in order for the chain to stop running since it connects the engine and the chain. However, when the engine is turned on, the clutch also engages so that the chain can begin cutting.

Chain Catcher

Found at the bottom of the chainsaw. It is a safety feature that impedes the chain from being thrown back towards the user when the chain is destroyed or when it comes loose from its track.

Safety throttle

This is a button located near the rear handle of the chainsaw. It has to be pressed in order for the throttle and chain to engage. Along with the dead man’s switch, a trigger linked to the throttle is held down when the machine is used and can activate the chain break when released, it prevents accidental starting of the unit.

Anti-vibration handle

This is engineered to limit the intense vibrations caused by operating a chainsaw. With this technology, you don’t need to be afraid of the effects brought on by vibration.

Proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

chainsaw ppe

Another way to reduce the risk of a chainsaw injury is to wear PPE, Personal Protective Equipment, from your head to your toes. Several PPE options exists to maximize your level of protection and it’s important that you use them when operating any type of hazardous equipment. It is also important that the PPE you use is of high quality because low-quality protective equipment might not guarantee your safety.


For the head area, the most common protective gear is a hard hat. When working with a chainsaw, this is essential as it protects your skull from injuries. It’s also important that anyone near someone operating a chainsaw should wear a hard hat.

These are the following PPE that are necessary when protecting your face: safety glasses or goggles as well as face and side shields. The eyes need to be protected since small objects tend to fly around like wood chips and sawdust.

Since chainsaws produce loud noises, you also want to use hearing protection. The average chainsaw can reach up to 109 dB. This noise pollution is enough to cause hearing issues if operated for long periods of time.

You may also need to protect your nasal area since working with chainsaws can emit certain smells of dust, smoke, and gas fumes that can affect your respiratory system.


Your hands are the part of your body that is directly connected to the chainsaw while working, so you should always wear gloves. This can protect you from cuts and it can lessen the effect of the chainsaw vibration on your hands.


Since foot and leg injuries are the most common kind of chainsaw injury, you should really comply with the PPE for foot and leg protection. For your legs you should be sure to wear chainsaw chaps. These chaps are designed specifically with stopping power in mind.

You can protect your feet by wearing work boots that feature steel toes.

General Safety Tips to Always Follow

Always read the owner’s manual first. Each chainsaw works differently and has their own nuances that can vary based on brand.

  • Operate chainsaws only in well ventilated areas.
  • Wear PPE.
  • Only operate a chainsaw when well rested. Remember, fatigue will always cause you to be careless.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. For instance, weather, terrain, people, wildlife, etc.

Final Thoughts

Protecting yourself while operating your chainsaw is essential. Safety should be your number one priority. Read your owner’s manual before operation and learn how your specific saw works. Wear proper PPE to protect yourself in the event of a kickback or misstep.

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