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Chain Saw Safety

Chain saws are ideal for trimming trees and cutting fallen limbs into smaller pieces. Unfortunately, chain saws are associated with many serious injuries each year. Common chain saw hazards include the following:

  • Chain cuts
  • Falling trees and limbs
  • Strains and sprains
  • Burns

To avoid injury, you must respect chain saw hazards and handle chain saws skillfully. In addition to general lawn safety guidelines, follow these instructions for safely using chain saws:

  • Stay alert while sawing. Most injuries occur below the waist when the operator is not paying attention.
  • Do not use a chain saw alone. Have someone else stand nearby in case of an emergency.
  • Choose and inspect your chain saw carefully:
    • Use the correct size chain saw for the job at hand.
    • Ensure that the chain is sharp and the tension is taut.
    • Ensure that smaller chain saws have a safety tip to prevent kickbacks. (Kickbacks cause one third of all chain saw injuries.)
  • Wear a hard hat to protect you from falling limbs.
  • Always operate a chain saw with two hands.
  • Limbs that are at shoulder height or higher present a special safety problem. Use a ladder so that the saw is at a lower and safer position relative to your body.
  • Never allow the tip of a running chain saw to touch the ground. This could cause a serious kickback injury.
  • To avoid kickback injuries; stand to the side of a running chain saw. Do not stand directly behind it.
  • Move brush and limbs as you work to maintain a clear operating area.
  • Never force a chain saw through a limb.
  • Never stand on a log or limb while cutting it.

May 2011
Reviewed November 2014